Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) aims at strengthening the rural livelihood resource base through creation of productive and durable assets for sustainable growth. To ensure this, there has been emphasis on timely completion of works and on improving the quality of works. There has been equal thrust on capacity building of dedicated MGNREGS functionaries and community resource persons towards upgradation of their skills for improved quality of implementation of the programme.
Completion of incomplete works under MGNREGS, is a major concern of the government. As such, the Ministry of Rural Development is focusing on completion of all 61.39 lakh works which have been lying incomplete out of a total of 4.54 crore works that have been taken up since inception of the scheme. Owing to the close monitoring and intense engagement with the states, the Ministry has been able to ensure completion of over 1.02 crore works during FY 2016-17 and current FY, so far. The Ministry hopes to improve completion further through effective monitoring.
Given the diverse nature and scale of works being executed and the varied capacities of stakeholders involved, separate training modules to suit the requirements of the target groups have been developed with support from domain specific apex organisations. These training modules have formed the basis of imparting training to technical personnel under the banner SAKSHAM scheme.
The training programme was launched by the Minister for Rural Development, Narendra Singh Tomar, on June 19, 2017 and is expected to be completed by March 15, 2018 covering more than 65,000 technical persons. Around 57,000 technical personnel at state (521), district (6669) and block level (48,934) have been capacitated, so far, on the use of remote sensing and GIS tools for project planning and monitoring along with the thematic components like watershed, groundwater and geohydrology, plantation and Integrated Natural Resource Management. National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad and Central Ground Water Board have partnered with the Ministry of Rural Development in this exercise.
Imparting skill training to MGNREGA workers is a key focus area. The 6367 barefoot technicians have been trained, so far, for improving the quality and durability of assets through appropriate work planning, timely monitoring and supervision of works and also to bridge the gap in availability of technical resources at gram panchayat level.
The Ministry has also taken steps to standardise the estimates to bring about uniformity in cost norms, minimise leakages and to improve quality of works through detailing of technical specifications, tasks and workflows by adopting a Software for Estimate Calculation Using Rural Rates for Employment (SECURE). The Ministry has initiated training of Resource Persons at state, district and block levels on SECURE. All estimates under MGNREGS will be generated with the use of SECURE software from the Programme’s Management Information System with effect from April 1, 2018.
Further, institutional strengthening for Social Audit in accordance with notified auditing standards has been ensured through concerted efforts for establishment of administratively and financially independent Social Audit Units and training of dedicated resource persons. A total of 3760 resource persons from these independent Social Audit Units, at the state, district and block level, have been trained, assessed and certified by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), on a 30 days Certificate course on conduct of Social Audit.
Steps have also been taken to ensure engagement of women of self-help-groups as village resource persons for conducting the Social Audits. As of now, 47,000 women SHG members have been trained on a 4 days training module, for conducting Social Audits at the gram panchayat level.
To bring in transparency and to enhance the visibility of the programme, the Ministry is implementing GeoMGNREGA, a GIS based solution to visualise, analyse and explore MGNREGS asset related data. As on date more than 2.34 crore assets have been geotagged across the country. This has been achieved through capacity building of over 2.6 lakh functionaries on a mission mode. Now, the Ministry has initiated GeoMGNREGA Phase-II in 31 states and UTs from November 1, 2017. Under GeoMGNREGA Phase-II, the geotagging is being carried out in three stages viz. (i) before start of the work, (ii) during the work and (iii) on completion of work. A National Orientation Workshop and Training was held on 21-22 August 2017 for State Resource Persons and subsequently, 2,69,075 officers from states, districts, blocks and gram panchayats have been trained.
The impact is already discernible as reported in a recent study conducted by Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi to assess the impact of Natural Resource Management (NRM) Works under MGNREGA. Primary and secondary data from 30 districts spread over 21 states reveal that MGNREGA has helped in crop intensification and diversification leading to increase in rural household incomes. The 76% households have reported that the quality of assets created under MGNREGA are very good or good. Only 0.5% of the beneficiaries felt that the quality of assets was not satisfactory over time.
Further, the creation of these NRM assets has led to an increase in irrigation potential and ground water table. The availability of water in turn has led to a growth in production between 11% for rice and 25% in oilseeds and encouraged 28% of the sampled households to adopt horticulture plantation for higher returns. Overall, the study reported an 11% increase in gross annual income per household (HH) of all the 30 districts taken together within a span of two financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17.
(The information is based on the data provided by Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. Rural Marketing has no responsibility if there is any error.)