Status of NREGA Implementation Grassroots Learning and Ways Forward 1st Monitoring Report Prepared by Samarthan – Centre for Development Support With Support from Poorest Area Civil Society (PACS) Programme Preface A longstanding struggle of social activists demanding right to life resulted in the first round of success though the enactment of National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) Act. The Act was passed on 5th September 2005 and came into force in February 2006. The NREG Programme got launched in the 200 poorest and backward districts of twenty seven states of India. The programme is seen as a significant opportunity by the Government as well as civil society organizations to transform rural economy in selected districts/ states as it guarantees 100 days employment per family, and provides adequate resources for the improvement of infrastructure including productive assets of the village. The initial three quarters since operationalisation of the programme have not only been invested in building systems and procedures, but also developing operational details. Further, many states have moved towards effectively implementing the programme and generating employment for the poor families. The process of implementation has therefore generated ground level data at the household, village and panchayat levels about the initial bottlenecks and operational hurdles. The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme supports over 600 civil society organizations, working in the 108 poorest and most backward districts across six states of India, to enable the poor to realise their rights and entitlements more effectively and sustainably. This group of organizations represents a network with a large outreach and potential for influencing both community response and policy. The introduction of the NREGA has provided the PACS Programme an opportunity to align to the requirements of the NREGP and bring in processes that would facilitate implementation of the Act in its true form and spirit. As such the PACS Programme has invested in awareness rising on both the NREG Act as well as the state specific Acts in the PACS areas. Since the inception of the Act, the PACS programme has instituted processes for capacity building of the partner civil society organizations for enabling conduct of social audits as well documentation of evidences of discrimination as well as ground realities of registrations and employment given under the tenets of the Act. The primary purpose of bringing out the status of NREGA implementation in selective PACS states is not to point out shortcomings, since it is evident, that the NREGA implementation is in its nascent stage. The larger aim of the report is to build joint ownership of the learning’ emerging from the report by the civil society and the government to improve the strategy of support at the grassroots. Additionally, it aims to influence the programme design and operational areas in respective states and at the national level by establishing regular dialogue process with the senior executive machinery especially in context of entitlement access by the poor. The PACS programme is committed to bringing out a six monthly monitoring report on a regular basis. The monitoring report will be utilized by the PACS programme to improve strategies of civil society engagement for affecting NREGA implementation in PACS intervened panchayats. I am extremely thankful to Samarthan for taking responsibility of bringing out this report. I would also like to place my sincere word of thanks to the partner NGOs, citizens, facilitating agencies and government officials for providing relevant data and insights. We look forward to receiving your feedback on our endeavour. Kiran Sharma Programme Director Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme Acknowledgement NREGA is a unique Act which recognizes the legitimate role of Panchayats in addressing their fundamental duty as expressed in the 73th Constitutional Amendment of providing “economic development and social justice” in their area. The recognition of PRI as the principal agency of implementation under NREGA has opened up enormous opportunities for decentralizing development and respecting local solutions to local livelihood challenges. Samarthan has over the last 10 years worked towards strengthening participatory development and governance processes in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Over the last one year, the focus has been concentrated on influencing NREGA implementation and affecting application of Right to Information. Therefore, we were most willing to take the responsibility for bringing out Status Report on NREGA implementation for the selective PACS intervened states. PACS programme has also focused energies around NREGA implementation as a large number of NREGS districts converge PACS intervened areas. We are thankful to PACS for reposing their trust on Samarthan to bring out National Report on NREGA implementation. We worked on the report in a very tight schedule along with the period of holidays of Diwali and Eid and many other constraints. Therefore, it was a difficult trade off between bringing out a perfect report meeting the standards of monitoring on the one hand, and concentrating on bringing out qualitative grassroots experiences as patterns of difficulties encountered across the states for timely redressal of issues and building appropriate strategies for implementation, on the other. We opted for the second option of bringing out relatively less perfect yet timely report and I hope that you will bear with us for the shortcomings, if any. We express our thanks to the government officials as well as their official data sources to help us access data and information relevant for the report. We express our sincere thanks to the field level civil society organizations of PACS states, state level resource organizations, communication agencies and state representatives of PACS programme for providing us necessary data and documents helping us build state specific perspective. I am also putting on record the effort of Samarthan team, programme as well as support, for their hard work and commitment to work on the report relentlessly. We also appreciate contribution of Write Solutions, the communication agency of PACS programme, M.P for providing editorial support at a very short notice. We look forward for the continued co-operation and support from all of you. Yogesh Kumar Executive Director Samarthan – Centre for Development Support Table of Contents 1. Background ....................................................................................................................1 2. Emerging salient arguments on NREGA ...............................................................................2 3. Objectives of the Study ....................................................................................................3 4. Methodology ...................................................................................................................3 4.1. Sample/Outreach .......................................................................................................3 4.2. Issues covered...........................................................................................................4 4.3. Methods of data collection ...........................................................................................4 4.5 Limitations .................................................................................................................5 5. Report Card on NREGA Performance ...................................................................................6 5.1. Government Perspective on NREGA .................................................................................6 5.1.1. Number of Rural Households Covered Under the Programme .........................................6 5.1.2. Registration and Job Cards Issued..............................................................................6 5.1.3. Employment Provided Against Applications Given .........................................................7 5.1.4. State-Wise Funds Released .......................................................................................8 5.1.5. Release of Resources ...............................................................................................9 5.1.6. Expenditure Pattern .................................................................................................9 5.1.6. Key Findings from Government Data ........................................................................ 10 5.2. NREGA from Media’s View ............................................................................................ 11 5.2.1. Media Response at the time of enactment ................................................................. 11 5.2.2. Media Response on NREGA programme implementation .............................................. 12 5.2.3. State-wise highlights on performance ....................................................................... 13 5.3. Civil Society Perspective on NREGA ............................................................................... 13 5.3.1. Awareness of the programme .................................................................................. 14 5.3.2. Applications for Job Cards ....................................................................................... 15 5.3.3. Availability of Job Cards.......................................................................................... 17 5.3.4. Payment of wages ................................................................................................. 19 5.3.5. Provision of worksite facilities .................................................................................. 20 5.3.6. Unemployment allowance ....................................................................................... 20 5.3.7. Major Findings from Field Data ................................................................................ 21 5.4. Citizens’ Perspective on NREGA ..................................................................................... 22 5.4.1. Uttar Pradesh........................................................................................................ 23 5.4.2. Madhya Pradesh .................................................................................................... 24 5.4.3. Bihar ................................................................................................................... 25 5.4.4. Maharashtra ......................................................................................................... 25 5.4.5. Chhattisgarh ......................................................................................................... 26 5.4.6. Jharkhand ............................................................................................................ 27 6. Institutional Hurdles - Panchayat Perspective..................................................................... 28 6.1. Envisaged role of panchayats in NREGA ....................................................................... 28 6.2. State’s preparedness in handling the National Act- locally .............................................. 29 6.3. Unequal distribution of funds and the resource utilization in districts ................................ 30 6.4. Top down implementation drive adversely affecting local planning ................................... 30 6.5. Inadequate flexibility in guidelines for addressing local issues ......................................... 33 6.6. Hurdles of technical clearance in Gram Panchayat projects ............................................. 34 6.7. Inadequate support in developing sound technical estimates of civil works ....................... 35 6.8. Unfair technical evaluation of the civil works done......................................................... 36 6.9. Delayed departmental response/permission affects Panchayat’s performance.................... 37 6.10. State’s response on grassroots difficulties of Panchayats .............................................. 37 6.11. Positive examples of NREGA..................................................................................... 38 7. Ways forward................................................................................................................ 40 Annexure ......................................................................................................................... 44 Data From NREGA Website............................................................................................... 44 Sample villages for the Study ........................................................................................... 46 Partner Organisations Involved in the Study ....................................................................... 49 References ....................................................................................................................... 50 List of abbreviations APL -Above Poverty Line BPL -Below Poverty Line BREGS -Bihar Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme CGREGS -Chhattisgarh Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme CM -Chief Minister CSOs -Civil Society Organisations DFID -Department for International Development (United Kingdom’s) EAS -Employment Assurance Scheme EBC -Extremely Backward Caste GoB -Government of Bihar GoCG -Government of Chattisgarh GoI -Government of India GoJ -Government of Jharkhand GoMah -Government of Maharashtra GoMP -Government of Madhya Pradesh GoUP -Government of Uttar Pradesh GP -Gram Panchayat GS -Gram Sabha JREGS -Jharkhand Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme JRY -Jawahar Rozgar Yojana MC -Management Consultant MEAL -Monitoring Evaluation and Learning MPREGS -Madhya Pradesh Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme MREGS -Maharashtra Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme NREGA -National Rural Employment Guarantee Act NREP -National Rural Employment Programme OBC -Other Backward Caste PACS -Poorest Area Civil Society PRI -Panchayati Raj Institutions RD -Rural Development RO -Resource Organisation SC -Scheduled Caste SGRY -Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana ST -Scheduled Tribe UPREGS -Uttar Pradesh Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme Status of NREGA Implementation 1. Background Across the world governments have made promises that have rarely been kept. India is no exception and its governments have routinely announced policies and schemes that had no relation with available resources resulting in denial of basic services to citizens and the non-fulfilment of several goals. However this was also partly due to the inability of civil society organizations to pressurize their state governments effectively in this regard. India signed the Millennium Declaration in September 2000, which calls for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by halving the number of poor people living on less than a dollar a day and those who suffer from hunger. Thus, the Government of India recognized these goals as a legitimate policy commitment. Further, the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance government came up with commitments that the state had to make to improve the situation of the poor. These commitments were recognized by the Planning Commission as a national common minimum programme to mobilize resources for their implementation. Further, a citizens' charter was formulated by civil society activists. The UPA Government passed the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005. The Act provides employment guarantee to every rural household for 100 days in a year. Thus, it is not a programme and differs from other schemes because it gives the rural poor the right to demand that they be given a job or unemployment allowance. Salient Features of the Act Wages to be paid every week not later than a fortnight In case of any delay in the payment of wages, labourers entitled to compensation as per the Payment of Wages Act No gender bias permitted Provisions made for compensation and treatment in case of injury and for on-site safe drinking water, care of small children, periods of rest and a first-aid box Contractors and labour displacing machines banned At least 60 per cent of the expenditure under any project to be on wages. At least 50 per cent of the projects, in terms of value, to be implemented through the gram panchayats which must prepare a development plan The programme officer to responsible for the implementation of the employment guarantee programme in the block. The programme’s efficacy is based on the logic of using the productive capacity of ordinary rural folk to build and nurture assets, while simultaneously alleviating the problem of chronic unemployment and poverty. The Act provides an opportunity to build rural infrastructure through watershed development, restoration of water bodies such as tanks and canals, activities aimed at forestry, land development, and soil erosion and flood control, and construction of roads and institutional facilities. Anyone willing and able to perform unskilled manual labour at the statutory minimum wage can make a claim, 1 Status of NREGA Implementation which must be met by the local administration within 15 days failing which an unemployment allowance must be provided. Rights of Citizens Adult members of every rural household who are willing to do casual manual work at the statutory minimum wage may apply to the gram panchayat for registration Registration valid for a period not less than five years, and renewable Employment to be provided to every registered person within 15 days of receipt of an application Applications to be for at least 14 days of continuous work. Gram panchayat to accept valid applications and issue a dated receipt to the applicant Applicants provided with work to be notified in writing Employment to be provided within a radius of 5 km. If work is provided beyond 5 km, it is to be provided within the block, and the labourers paid 10 per cent of the daily minimum wages extra The impetus for the NREGA came from two sources. The first comprised of social movements such as the Right to Food that had been agitating for ending hunger by providing employment guarantees to the poor. This demand was supported by various civil society movements such as the Right to Information that incorporated such demands in its wider framework. The second and more direct influence came from the three-decade-long track record of the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) in Maharashtra. Evaluation studies of the Maharashtra EGS showed that the programme had the following strengths1: Reduced extreme levels of deprivation among the poorest sections Accounted for between one-tenth and one-third of the number of days of employment of rural workers Reduced migration to urban areas Stabilized employment in the off-peak season Higher participation of women Based on these influences, the government enacted the NREGA Act in September 2005. The law is being implemented in 200 of the poorest districts in this initial phase guiding state governments to develop NREG schemes. The schemes developed by the States reach out to 200 districts will be termed as NREGS in this report. The scheme is expected to cover the entire country within five years. 2. Emerging salient arguments on NREGA Critics of the NREGA have focussed on two sets of issues: one, that it is too expensive and, two, that corruption will prevent its success. The pro-market liberalisers view the NREGA as a dangerous piece of legislation that threatens to snowball India's fiscal deficit out of control. However, economist Mihir Shah holds the view that it could actually 'crowd- in' private investment and lay the foundation for non-inflationary growth in the medium- term.2 According to Shah, the capacity of the agricultural sector to absorb labour has 1 Sridhar, V. 2005.’Empowering the rural poor’, Frontline, Vol. 22, Issue 19, Sep 10-23 2 Shah, Mihir. 2004. ‘National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: A Historic Opportunity’, EPW, December 11, 2004 2 Status of NREGA Implementation declined drastically due to a decline in the per capita output of agriculture, which calls for a massive increase in public investment in rural India in the direction of sustainable environmental regeneration. The future of agriculture depends on restoring the health of the many 'public goods' that private agriculture critically depends on.3 The other issue of corruption can be dealt through social mobilization by grass roots organizations. As Jean Dreze says, ‘legislation alone will not guarantee employment, continuous mobilisation is required’.4 The Act empowers citizens to play an active role in the implementation of employment guarantee schemes, through gram sabhas, social audit, participatory planning and other activities. In fact the real significance of the act is directly proportionate to the extent and manner in its provisions are creatively pushed to their limits by the mobilization of the disadvantaged. The NREGA can become a major new instrument for galvanising panchayat raj institutions in India.5 Various stakeholders are closely monitoring the act and several surveys are being carried out to assess its implementation on the ground. There are various reports that point out the areas where there is scope for improvement. 3. Objectives of the Study To review the current status of implementation of NREGA in PACS intervened states To identify emerging strengths and weaknesses for wider dialogue for improvements To evolve strategies for affecting implementation of the programme as a joint initiative of the government, civil society and the Panchayati Raj institutions 4. Methodology 4.1. Sample/Outreach Primary data was collected directly during the NREGA week that was observed in PACS states during 3-9 July, 2006 as well as through a schedule that was handed out later. The NREGA week covered 6 PACS states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. In Bihar, the campaign covered 1000 villages spread across the poorest districts. Besides, the CSOs were successful in filing 50,000 application forms, mostly of the Dalits and landless. In Jharkhand, the campaign was spread over 550 villages in 20 districts. In Maharashtra, the PACS campaign covered 200 villages in four districts. It covered a population of around 1, 20,000 while in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh the campaign covered 420 villages in 11 districts. The NREGA week generated tremendous field level experiences. However no structured format in data collection was prescribed. Since the data collected during the NREGA week was not on a structured format, a schedule was prepared containing a list of questions on the implementation of NREGA, which was distributed to selected CSOs to generate data from the Panchayats and the 3 Shah, 2004 4 Lakshman, Nirmala. 2006. ‘Employment guarantee — signs of transformation’, The Hindu, Thursday, May 11 5 Shah, 2004 3 Status of NREGA Implementation villages. Random sampling was used in choosing the panchayats. The schedule primarily comprised of closed questions though a few open ended questions also existed to record the opinions and suggestions of the people. This additional data was also collected from 6 PACS states covering 87 panchayats and 107 villages. 4.2. Issues covered The issues covered by the structured schedule applied in 107 Panchayats awee: works completed under NREGA, job card registration and availability, average payments daily, frequency of payments and reasons for delay (if any), distance of worksite from the village and provision of worksite facilities as given by the law, level of satisfaction with field personnel, duration of work, work related injuries and any comments regarding the law or its implementation. High quality data was generated on the above issues and other pertinent areas of concern in NREGA week reports, people’s tribunals and oral testimonies of citizens and Panchayat representatives. 4.3. Methods of data collection Both primary and secondary sources of data were used. Both included qualitative and quantitative data. Primary quantitative data was obtained through the schedules that were delivered to the people affected by the act through the PACS partners with volunteers recording the responses. These schedules covered a period from August to October 2006. Primary qualitative data was obtained through direct interactions. Case studies were obtained through partner NGOs in the field as well as through the public hearing on NREGA organised in PACS states. Direct experiences were also obtained through the NREGA Yatras in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, which mobilised several thousand people in both states. Further, there were direct interactions with officials and affected groups. Both the PACS partners as well as the staff of Samarthan met officers to gain their observations and reactions regarding the law. The PACS partners met the lower level officers to gain an understanding of the issues involved in the implementation of the act. Further, a meeting of Sarpanches from several districts in Madhya Pradesh was organized at the office of Samarthan in October 2006. The Sarpanches were made aware of the provisions of the act following which they described the lapses in implementation. Secondary sources primarily comprised of qualitative data. These included articles and news reported in the print and electronic media about the rationale and efficacy of the act along with a critical look on the implementation. Such reports covered a variety of states and helped to understand issues that were common across the spectrum. Further, voluntary organizations recently organized the NREGA week in the first week of July in which they attempted to raise the awareness of the people and rate the efforts of governments to implement the act. The reports on the initiatives taken during the week were another rich source of information and allowed a comparison of states as far as implementation of the programme was concerned. PACS partners working in villages also provided crucial insights into the reality on the ground. Quantitative data came through information on the NREGA put on the websites of state governments. Some of the state governments were proactive enough in putting relevant information on their initiatives on the internet but in most cases the information was either absent or not up to date. 4 Status of NREGA Implementation 4.5 Limitations The official government data available on the official website was not updated. Therefore, only data until August could be incorporated in the report. The NREGA Week and awareness campaigns were undertaken without a structured format of reporting. State level NREGA Week reports used different formats making synthesis difficult. Sample questionnaire was supposed to be administered to 50 panchayats in each state by 5 CSOs in each region. All could not fill this and the desired level of details could not be attained. It was difficult to gather any data from the state officials other than what was available from the website. Officials felt that all the relevant information was available on the website even though this was not the case. 5 Status of NREGA Implementation 5. Report Card on NREGA Performance 5.1. Government Perspective on NREGA The data available at the URL www.nrega.nic.in till August 2006 was analysed to understand the macro perspective on implementation of the National Employment Guarantee Act. Though there are 27 states where NREGP is being implemented, the present study analyses the situation in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar, which are the key intervened states of PACS programme. 5.1.1. Number of Rural Households Covered Under the Programme The six states under study have 106 districts where NREGP is being Percentage of Rural Households in the Six Selected States implemented. In all, there are Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra 12% Uttar Pradesh more than 3-crore rural households 12% 29% in these states. Amongst the states, Bihar has the maximum Jharkhand 12% number of districts (23) under NREGP. The details of the number of districts covered under NREGP Chattisgarh are mentioned below. It is worth 6% mentioning here that Bihar has Bihar declared all districts of the state 29% under the scheme. While 23 districts will be supported by the Union Government, the Government of Bihar will support the remaining 15. Amongst the six states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh account for the largest percentage of rural households, while Chattisgarh has the lowest number of rural households (as compared to the cumulative figure of the six states). 5.1.2. Registration and Job Cards Issued Of the total rural Registred Households Vs Job Cards Issued households in NREGP districts of states under 45.00 42.81 41.44 41.40 study, 52.8% 40.00 households have applied No. of Households (in Lakhs) 35.00 to be registered under 30.00 24.02 26.94 24.64 the scheme. Of this, 25.00 67.4% families have been issued job cards. 20.00 18.79 16.97 15.35 15.00 10.72 12.05 10.95 Though these figures 10.00 look impressive, a 5.00 general impression from 0.00 Bihar Chattisgarh Jharkhand Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Utttar Pradesh the field is that people No. of Registered Households States No. of Job Cards Issued have not really applied for registration. Rather, the panchayats have carried out registrations on their own and issued job cards. It was 6 Status of NREGA Implementation seen in some panchayats of districts in Madhya Pradesh that 100% families have been registered under the scheme. The high percentage of registration in Madhya Pradesh is also due to the fact that the government has taken into account the entire list of households prepared during the BPL survey in 2003. This fails the purpose of registration to an extent. The purpose of registering families for the scheme is to ensure that only deserving (or eligible/poor) families get job cards and these are not misused. As a result, in Madhya Pradesh today, most families in NREGA districts are registered and there are more job cards than are actually required! In Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, it was observed that the unit of family is defined by chullah’s. Thus, a couple living in their parents house will also be considered a family if they have a separate chullah. All such families have been taken into account for the purpose of implementation of this scheme. All families which are registered will be allotted job cards. The table below shows that Madhya Pradesh has been a leading state in the distribution of job cards to registered households. In Maharashtra, only 26.4% registered households have received job cards. In Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, it was seen that while job cards have been prepared and distributed to a large proportion of registered families, these documents are not being used properly. In most work sites visited, it was noted that job cards are not being filled. This will defeat the very purpose of issuing job cards. The practice of registering all households and issuing job cards to everybody in the village is self-defeating because there are chances of misuse of those cards which will not be used and there are chances that the deserving families will be left out. Misuse of the cards may be by filling up of fake attendance on muster rolls or lending job cards to the poor families to work on their behalf on 50% wage payment. It was also noted that proper guidelines were not being followed in issuing job cards. In Bihar, for instance, several job cards were issued without any number on them. In Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Bihar, photographs have not yet been pasted onto the job cards. In some districts of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, it was seen that villagers were required to pay money – from Rs 20 to Rs 200 - for getting job cards. E m p lo y m e n t D e m a n d e d V s E m p lo y m e n t P r o v id e d 5.1.3. Employment Provided Against 2 5 .0 0 Applications Given 2 0 .0 0 1 9 .1 3 1 8 .0 5 1 7 .9 2 1 6 .8 4 No. of persons (in Lakhs) Government data 1 5 .0 0 available till August, 2006, 1 0 .0 0 reveals that of the 5 .3 3 5 .0 5 total cases where 5 .0 1 5 .0 1 5 .0 0 employment was 1 .6 5 1 .6 2 1 .9 3 1 .8 3 demanded, 0 .0 0 almost 95% B ih a r C h a t t is g a r h J h a rk h a n d M a d h y a P ra d e s h S ta te s M a h a ra s h tra U ttta r P ra d e s h people were given employment. E m p lo y m e n t D e m a n d e d E m p lo y m e n t P r o v id e d 7 Status of NREGA Implementation Though this data may seem impressive, it can also be misleading. It has been observed in all the states under study that people are not actually applying or demanding jobs as a right. Invariably, in all the states, the works being undertaken by panchayats and other agencies are being carried out like any other developmental work. People are being absorbed simply because both resources as well work are available in the village. Therefore, one cannot say for sure if employment is being provided as a guarantee as there is no explicit demand by job card holders are a right for employment. The real challenge would come some years down the line, when there may not be sufficient work within the village or when panchayats may not have the requisite funds to initiate new work. Considering the fact that the Act and the schemes that the state governments have floated are still new, and that the people are not as aware of the ‘demand’ aspect of the Act, there will be, in the coming months, considerable pressure on state governments for employment as and when demand for work picks up in these districts. It has also been seen that there is very little emphasis on training of panchayat representatives in planning. There is a need to train panchayats to take up NREGP activities in a systematic and planned manner, so that the employment guarantee can be ensured along with the creation of sustainable infrastructure in these villages. 5.1.4. State-Wise Funds Released More than 137000 works have been sanctioned under the project. The details are as shown in the table below. An analysis of funds released for works reveals that only 20% funds allocated for the current year have been No. of Works Started in Different States utilized so far. Also, the rate of progress differs Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra 4% from different state to 51% state and district to district. Since funds are Utttar Pradesh 18% released directly to the district by the Centre, the State Government is not in a position to reallocate Bihar funds to better performing districts (in terms of fund 13% utilization). Chattisgarh Jharkhand 7% 7% Release of funds is also proportionate to the number of works started in different states. Amongst states under study, the maximum numbers of works have been started in Madhya Pradesh, while the least is in Maharashtra. There is a great deal of variation in the proportion of funds released to states. A comparison of the total registered households and funds released reveals that Madhya Pradesh has the maximum amount released per family. In Madhya Pradesh, on an average, an amount of Rs 2554.95 has been released per registered family. This figure is the lowest in case of Maharashtra, where the amount released per family in only Rs 433.88. Madhya Pradesh has almost 58% more funds released than the national average, while Maharashtra is 73% lower than the national average. 8 Status of NREGA Implementation 5.1.5. Release of Resources The state governments are supposed to create a fund Funds Released per Registered Household called the State Employment 3000 Guarantee Fund, which will 2500 2554.95 receive the grant from the Centre. The State Government 2002.04 2000 Amount (in Rs) 1686.35 has to supplement the grant 1500 from the Centre for 1243.31 implementing the scheme. The 1020.81 1000 amount released by the Central 433.88 Government as well as the 500 state’s matching share are 0 given in the table below. The Bihar Chattisgarh Jharkhand Madhya Pradesh State Maharashtra Utttar Pradesh states have to provide 10% of State Value National Average (Rs 1621.50) the total amount sanctioned for implementation of the scheme. Most states have complied by allocating the state’s share. The data available from different states reveals that Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have actually released the state’s share, while Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are yet to release their share of resources. In Madhya Pradesh, the state’s share has not been released because the State Employment Guarantee Fund has not yet been created. The government is in the process of creating this fund. As an interim arrangement, the first instalment of funds from the Central Government was sent directly to the districts. Release of Centre and State Share for NREGP Release During Current Year S.N (Amt in Rs Lakh) State o State matching State's share Centre Total share actually released 1 Bihar 40503.38 4500.38 4500.35 45003.73 2 Chattisgarh 18836.72 2092.97 1732.17 20568.89 3 Jharkhand 37618.59 4179.84 4179.81 41798.40 4 Madhya Pradesh 116698.20 12966.47 0 116698.20 5 Maharashtra 17961.64 1995.74 0 17961.64 6 Uttar Pradesh 33498.69 3722.08 2600 36098.69 TOTAL 265117.22 29457.48 13012.33 278149.55 Data Source: nregp.nic.in, August 2006 5.1.6. Expenditure Pattern The expense on wages (skilled and unskilled), material and contingency in different states is mentioned below (data from Maharashtra is not available). In the five states where data was available, the payment on wages was nearly 70%, and that on material was around 30%. The contingency expenses were around 1%, except in the case of Uttar Pradesh, where contingency expenses were slightly above 2 %. In Madhya Pradesh, there are almost 50,000 works that have been completed till date. The State Government has claimed that preliminary findings reveal nearly 90% of the works taken under NREGP have been implemented by Gram Panchayats. The total person-days of work generated till now 9 Status of NREGA Implementation in the state are 1035.79 lakhs. Thus, on an average, per day wages in Madhya Pradesh work out to Rs 51.94. In all states, payment to skilled and unskilled wages is almost 70% of the total expenditure. This is so because the work being undertaken is soil-based and labour- intensive. Currently, there is enough soil-based work in villages, but in all the states, there is very little panchayat land available in villages and as implementation of the programme picks up, there is going to be a shortage of soil- based work. This means that other activities which involve more material cost will have to be included, and the proportion of material cost to labour cost will have to be reworked in the scheme if employment has to be guaranteed. If this proportion is not changed, people applying for employment may not get work and the state governments will have to pay unemployment allowance instead. Expenditure Pattern Under NREGP Cumulative Expenditure Percentage to total S.No State (Amt in Rs Lakh) expenditure On On semi- On Conti Unskilled skilled and On continge Materi ngen wage skilled wage material ncy Total Wages al cy 1 Bihar 11163.75 2308.26 5973.201 154.481 19599.69 68.74 30.48 0.79 2 Chattisgarh 10094.5 347.55 4439.91 38.82 14920.78 69.98 29.76 0.26 3 Jharkhand 8858.98 1083.21 4075.25 144.13 14161.57 70.21 28.78 1.02 4 Madhya Pradesh 53803.39 4931.22 24264.1 564.73 83563.44 70.29 29.04 0.68 5 Maharashtra NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 6 Uttar Pradesh 9130.09 490.53 3499.91 285.63 13406.16 71.76 26.11 2.13 Data Source: nregp.nic.in August 2006 5.1.6. Key Findings from Government Data Among the six states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have the maximum rural households that can be covered under the scheme. If the programme is implemented in the real sprit of the Act, these states can be among the better performing states as far as receiving central grants is concerned. The status of registration of households in Maharashtra and Bihar is extremely poor. Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh are on track as far as issuing job cards to registered families is concerned. In these three states, the job cards have been issued to almost 100% registered households. Invariably, in all the states, the number of jobs provided is almost the same as jobs demanded. Madhya Pradesh has received the largest chunk of resources for implementation of the programme. It has got nearly 50% of the cumulative resources released to the six states covered in the study. IT is also worthwhile to mention here that Madhya Pradesh is the only state where almost 90% works are being undertaken by panchayats. The fund released per registered households is abysmally low in Maharashtra. This shows a dismal performance of the state as compared to other states. In Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the State Government has still not released any resources from the state’s share for the programme. As an interim arrangement, the 10 Status of NREGA Implementation grant from the centre was sent directly to the district. However, the districts that have high utilisation rates are facing problems in getting the subsequent instalments. In Madhya Pradesh, the State Employment Guarantee Fund has not been created till date. This is the reason for the delay in release of the state share and the instalment to the districts. The works being undertaken is labour-based and invariably in all states, nearly 70% of expenditure has been on skilled and unskilled labour. 5.2. NREGA from Media’s View The purpose of the review of the media coverage is to consider issues reflected/highlighted in the media on NREGA. This has been divided into three sections: 5.2.1. Media Response at the time of enactment The coverage of the NREGA in the media has changed over a period of time. When the bill was being discussed in Parliament several journalists and columnists denounced the bill as: (i) an economic hoax6 because: it was not the duty of the state to guarantee employment; it burdened the tax paying public that actually funded such schemes; the nation should maximize production not work, and; government actually destroys jobs (ii) a corruption guarantee scheme7 because: it was a planned drain of wealth from the productive sector to the underground economy; perpetuates the populist legacy of politicians; would not only be wasteful but entail fresh taxes and erode India’s competitiveness, and; encourage a network of patronage (iii) bountiful and wasteful8 because: already the Central government spent over Rs 40,000 Crore per annum for poverty alleviation which was wasted; the scheme would be implemented first in districts represented by powerful politicians who would get the chance to utilize tax payer’s money for political patronage (iv) a means to call mid term elections9 because it allowed purchasing power worth Rs 12000 crores to 20 million Indians in the first phase of the programme. (v) a still-born child10 because: it would generate vast rents with small transfer benefits; leakages of government programmes were as high as 98%; reduce growth rate of the economy; but land reform could generate capitalist employment. (vi) create a hole in government finances11 to the tune of 0.6% of the GDP (vii) a means to siphon off money12 because the NREGA was to be evaluated on the basis of the number of days of employment generated not outputs like creation of 6 Sauvik Chakravarti, Employment Guarantee a Hoax, Indian Express, New Delhi, 7 Swapan Dasgupta, Rename REGA as Corruption Guarantee Scheme, The Pioneer, New Delhi 8 Tavleen Singh, Marxists begin to see the light Not Sonia, Indian Express, Sunday August 28, 2005 9 N. Chandra Mohan, Jobbing through to the elections, Sify.com, 5 October, 2005 10 Sebastian Morris, Employment Guarantee Scheme is a still-born child: Try land reforms, Financial Express, August 30, 2005 11 M.K. Venu, Leading Reform is a two-way street, Economic Times, September 6, 2005 11 Status of NREGA Implementation assets and therefore could lead to massive fraud by the bureaucrats to show generation of employment Thus costs of the scheme as well as widespread corruption along with capitalist rhetoric were the main objections. The same sentiments were shared in sections of the international media13 which wondered as to how the government would sustain the programme. The Act was defended by a retired bureaucrat14 who disputed the figures of high costs said to be to the tune of one lakh fifty thousand crore pointing out that Maharashtra had had an employment guarantee scheme for over 30 years. Based on the Maharashtra figures the employment guarantee scheme would cost only Rs 17, 000 crore or even less. Another writer saw it as a momentous initiative15 that had the potential to boost the rural economy and compared it with employment programmes across the world. A third writer pointed out that the act improved the rural economy's ability to absorb labour leading to better wages.16 It was based on the principle of self-targeting and would benefit only those in dire need.17 These were the exceptions. 5.2.2. Media Response on NREGA programme implementation Since then the coverage of the NREGA has changed. The media has either started looking at success stories on the positive side or lamented lapses in implementation, which prevented the poorer sections from receiving their due. Benefits from the scheme that have been highlighted include: (i) Rural unemployed labourers in Panchayats in Delhi gaining productive employment18 for a longer period of time. This was being facilitated by a smooth flow of information from Delhi to all tiers of the district officials and the Panchayati Raj (ii) Higher participation of women19 in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan where 90% of the workers under the NREG scheme are women (iii) Corruption being minimized20 in Rajasthan due to public vigilance leading to more than one and a half lakh people gaining employment in Dungarpur district. There was massive participation of rural folk Tribal women looked forward to seeing their men back home. A Padyatra21 of activist groups in Rajasthan revealed little corruption and a pro-active administration. (iv) Reduced rural-urban migration22 in Gujarat and Rajasthan since it enabled labourers avoid costs of migration 12 Job Scheme: A means to Siphon off money, Rediff Money, September 5, 2005 13 Cherian Thomas, Adding jobs But at what cost?, International Herald Tribune, September 14, 2005 14 Venkat R. Chary, REGS: Grossly miscalculated?, The Hindu Business Line, 9 September, 2005 15 Maxine Olson, Work for pro-poor growth, The Economic Times, October 20, 2005. 16 Sridhar, V. 2005.’Empowering the rural poor’, Frontline, Vol. 22, Issue 19, Sep 10-23 17 Ibid 18 Sonu Jain, Job Guarantee rolls out, ray of hope in New Delhi shadow, The Indian Express, 3 February, 2006 19 Avijit Ghosh, Job scheme gets feminised in south Rajasthan, Times of India, 26 April, 2006 20 Mohammad Iqbal, Public vigilance helps to minimise corruption in rural employment guarantee scheme, The Hindu, 28 April, 2006 21 Abha Sharma, Coming home to a better tomorrow, Deccan Herald, Bangalore 22 Reetika Khera, Employment Guarantee and Migration, The Hindu, 13 July 2006 12 Status of NREGA Implementation 5.2.3. State-wise highlights on performance These are specific case studies, stories, and news items on selective states focusing on problems in implementation: (i) Lack of assessment especially in Uttar Pradesh where there is no data available on jobs required to provide livelihood security23. In fact Uttar Pradesh is seen as a laggard24 in this regard. (ii) Lack of rationalization of work norms25 which are too demanding so that few are able to earn the wage rate of Rs 73 per day (iii) Corruption and neglect26 hindering implementation of the programme in Haryana and UP (iv) Low ground awareness, low wages and lack of attendance in gram sabhas27 in Gujarat which also has the distinction of having the first court case28 on lack of payment of adequate wages (v) Difficult work sites, underpayment, violation of social security norms, uninformed people and children in scorching heat29 characterizing the implementation of NREGA in Madhya Pradesh. Discrimination on the basis of caste, community, disability and proximity to sarpanch, panchayat secretary have been noticed across the country (vi) Several states failing30 to implement provisions of the programme. Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Kerala have not issued state specific operational guidelines. Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have issued their own amendments which violate the provisions of NREGA. Thus, public vigilance and the emerging success stories have induced many media persons to change their outlook towards the programme. The difference in coverage is now only a matter of degree with some media being more supportive than the other. An interesting issue is that those sections of the media that had championed the Act such as the Hindu are playing the role of watchdogs by pointing out lapses in implementation while other sections that had been negative or ambivalent such as Business Standard & Indian Express are coming to a grudging acceptance of the merits of the programme. 5.3. Civil Society Perspective on NREGA The CSO’s perspective is based on the primary data which was collected during the NREGA week that was observed in the PACS states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar 23 Arvind Singh Bisht, Rural employment: No guarantee yet, Times of India, 19 February, 2006 24 Times News Network, UP a laggard in the rural job plan, Times of India, 9 August 2006 25 Mohammad Iqbal, Ibid 26 Sreelatha Menon, Village ‘dole’ takes baby steps amid apathy, graft, Rediff Money, 7 August, 2006 27 Rajiv Shah, Report slams state record on rural jobs, Gandhi Nagar, 15 September, 2006 28 Kamran Sulaimani, Paid just Rs 4 per day under rural job scheme, widow moves Gujarat HC, Indian Express, June 15, 2006 29 Sachin Kumar Jain, Digging in times of harvest, Tehelka 30 States dragging their feet on rural job scheme, says study, The Economic Times, Chandigarh, June 5, 2006 13 Status of NREGA Implementation Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. In Bihar, the campaign covered 1000 villages spread across the poorest districts. Besides, the CSOs were successful in filing 50,000 application forms, mostly of the Dalits and landless. In Jharkhand, the campaign was spread over 550 villages in 20 districts. In Maharashtra, the PACS campaign covered 200 villages in four districts. It covered a population of around 1,20,000 while in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh the campaign covered 420 villages in 11 districts. 5.3.1. Awareness of the programme A rally on NREGS in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh by civil society groups found extremely low level of knowledge on the scheme among the community members. However, elected representatives specially the Panchayat head and Secretaries of the Panchayat were reasonably aware. Similarly, a survey of 15 groups covering about 40 individuals from different wards of the Panchayat Heera Nagar in the Tikamgarh district of the Madhya Pradesh revealed that only 10% of the individuals were aware of the scheme (June 2006). Many of the individuals who had even got the employment under the NREGS thought that it was some sort of employment provided by the Panchayat from prevailing schemes like SGRY etc. It was also observed that the people who formed the upper strata of the society were better informed than the workers. Many of these upper class families were not seeking employment in the NREGS. Most of the road side Panchayats had walls painted with the main features of the scheme. But the impact of these wall writings cannot be said for sure in predominantly illiterate populations that reside in these villages. In Brijpura panchayat of Chhattrarpur district in Madhya Pradesh, it was observed that there was little or no information available at the Panchayat level about the type of work available or its timeframe. In Mohraha panchayat of the district, the lack of understanding on wage payment rate was creating confusion among the villagers. Often people felt that they were being underpaid for the entire days work. The disabled were refused work, and in some cases people from outside the village were given work in the village. In Raipurva village of Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh, it was found that the panchayat secretaries were not aware that the responsibility of registering applications was with them. There was also some misinformation about the fact that only households listed as BPL were entitled for getting job cards. The Rozgar yatra in June 2006 in Patra Para panchayat, Rajpur block of Sarguja district in Chattisgarh, revealed that the level of awareness was abysmally low People were not aware of the purpose of the job cards. Inquiries in the field showed that the distribution of job cards was well under way in villages in the districts of Ranchi, Gumla, Lohardagga, Simdega and West Singhbhum of Jharkhand, but the process of applying had not begun because the people did not know that they had to apply for work A similar situation prevailed in the other states as well. It was discouraging to see that only 29% households from 30 villages in 6 blocks of Aurangabad district in Maharashtra had applied for job cards. It was observed that this was primarily because of very low level of awareness among people. In Lachadarga village in Jharkhand, work had not started anywhere in the village, and the gram sabha itself did not know about the NREGS. Low level of awareness was also found in the Kolebera district of the state. 14 Status of NREGA Implementation Awareness efforts by the government agencies State Situation on the ground Bihar Minimal early awareness efforts by the government have resulted in very little awareness at the field level. The government efforts have been limited to wall writing at inconspicuous places along roads about schemes of family planning, drinking water and vector diseases. The awareness efforts of CSOs during the NREGA week were fully supported by the government and local administration which produced good results, but the government has failed to develop a proper policy in place to increase the awareness about NREGA. Chattisgarh In most of the places it was observed that the government officials did not provide the villagers with adequate information. The awareness generation effort in the NREGP was being done as any other government scheme. Jharkhand During discussions with the government officials, it appeared that even the government officials at the block and panchayat level were not fully aware of the scheme and its guidelines. Madhya It was observed that even at the block level, proper awareness Pradesh material was not available. The panchayat representatives said that they had not been provided with any publicity material (no pamphlets, handbills, posters etc.) In some districts a few wall writings could be seen as the only sign of NREGA awareness efforts in villages. Maharashtra Despite having an employment guarantee scheme for the past 34 years, the Maharashtra REG Scheme formulated NREGA did not evoke very enthusiastic response from the villagers, as no clear signals about differences from earlier EGS and MREGS were sent by the administration. Uttar Pradesh Lack of political will was reflected in awareness creation as well. Some lower level officials in private conversations admitted that higher level of awareness could create problems for them as they would always have to be on their toes to provide work to the villagers. 5.3.2. Applications for Job Cards Though the guidelines of the act say that everyone who registers for work, shall be provided with job cards free of cost, it was observed that in some districts of these states, people were being charged money for getting job cards. In Gathewara panchayat of Chhattarpur district in Madhya Pradesh, inquiries made during the Rozgar Yatra revealed that job cards had not been made and money was being demanded for making them. There were no photographs on most of the job cards. People were not aware that they had to apply for jobs. In Brijpura panchayat of the same district no entries were being made 15 Status of NREGA Implementation on job cards about the type of work being done, duration of the work, etc. Job cards did not have the signature of the sarpanch, nor did they have a photograph of the applicant. Women were being paid at the rate of Rs 50 per day, less than the men. In Mohraha panchayat of Chhattarpur district, Rs 150 was being charged for a job card. Contractors were doing most of the work. Women were paid less than the minimum wage. In Raipurva village of Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh, it was found that in several villages, people had to pay Rs 20-120 for a job card. They also had to pay for the photographs for the job cards. Officials said that since they had not received any funds from the government for this purpose, they recovered the cost from the applicants. This reinstates the fact that the government officials were not properly aware of the NREGA guidelines. It was observed in some villages of the district that a fee of Rs 2 to Rs 5 was levied even for the application forms. There were also reports of the Pradhan refusing top accept applications for registration from Itawa Dudail Panchayat in Chitrakoot district. Applications for work and their receipt State Issues on the ground Bihar According to government figures, except two districts, work has been provided to everyone who demanded Conscious demand for work was observed in some areas however, more demand for work is not coming because of confusion related to nature of work, work duration, distance of worksite from the village Chattisgarh People were not aware of the procedure to apply for work. There was no priority to women in allocation of work. Presence of contractors was also reported at worksites. In some instances people from outside the panchayat were found working at the village work sites. Jharkhand In absence of information about procedures for demanding work, the work allotment was dependent upon officials’ interest or CSO’s activism. At some places work was being provided through contractors. Madhya Most of the people were not aware that they had to apply for Pradesh work separately after getting their job cards. At some places, even if people knew that they had to apply for work they had no idea about where to apply and the modes of application. According to the Sarpanch, the block level officials were not forthcoming with information and this caused undue delay in providing work. Maharashtra There was lack of information about procedures for applying for work. Since in some of the districts farmers had committed suicides recently, the administration was being proactive in providing work. Uttar Pradesh In most of the district there were no written receipts of job 16 Status of NREGA Implementation State Issues on the ground application given. There was lack of awareness of the procedure because the Sarpanch did not know that he was not authorized to take applications since work had to be provided by the block. The block level officials said that there was no such provision in the act to give dated receipts of applications received. 5.3.3. Availability of Job Cards In Chattisgarh, it was observed that Job cards were not made till the date of the yatra. The Sarpanch did the registrations of the families but the community by and large did not know about the registration and had not received any cards. They only knew that their photograph had been taken to be pasted on some cards. In 30 villages surveyed in 6 blocks of Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, of a total of 30,002 households, 8,881 were found to have registered for job cards, and 5,920 got them. This means that only 67% of the registered households had received the job cards till June 2006. Similarly in Biloli block of Nanded district, of the 12,840 households surveyed, only 4,373 had registered for job cards and only 1,558 got job cards. In Naigaon block, of Nanded district, of 13,822 households surveyed, 1,852 had registered and 552 got job cards. No one in the 15 villages surveyed in these blocks had actually got work under the NREGS. In Kinwat block, of a total of 1,078 households, 862 registered and 324 got job cards. In Himayatnagar block, of a total of 448 households, 360 registered for work and 288 got job cards. In Mukhed block, of a total of 1,836 households, 962 registered and not a single person got a job card. In Yeotmal district (Maharshtra), around 50% of households in the 5 blocks surveyed had registered for work, out of which 25% received job cards. Around 50% of the 46 surveyed villages had prepared micro plans. In Ralegaon block, of 6,804 surveyed households, 1,417 had registered and 1,198 had job cards. In Yeotmal block, of a total of 10,462 households, 2,538 had registered and 967 had job cards. In Zari, of a total of 1,974 households, 655 had registered and 335 had job cards. In Kelapur, of a total of 524 households, 193 had registered and 96 had job cards. In Maregaon, of a total of 443 households, 150 had registered and 63 had job cards. In Lachadarga village in Jharkhand, around 250 people attended the meeting of the yatra. During the discussions if was found that the village had 150 families and only 5 family had received the job cards. A common practice observed in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand was that the job cards were not filled properly. In several villages it was observed that the job cards were taken back by the panchayat secretary before making the payment. These cards were returned after a long period and that too without entering any details in the card. In Semri Jhakrasi Panchayat of Raibareli District, people were asked to get the photographs for job cards on their own and the pradhan had promised that the amount would be reimbursed to them. There are still around 25 job card holders who have not received the reimbursement in Parwa Rajdhar panchayat of Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh, people had applied for job cards in August and they did not receive it till October. Registration and Job Cards State Issues on the ground Bihar It was observed that there was undue delay in issuing Job cards after receipt of application 17 Status of NREGA Implementation State Issues on the ground Job cards were being issued without any registration number and/or photos of adult members In some villages, people were being asked to pay for the photographs in direct contravention of the due procedures It was also observed that no details (job done, wages paid etc) were being recorded in the job cards Chattisgarh It was observed that money was being demanded for making job cards Generally people were not clear about the procedures of getting job cards It was found in most of the places that the job cards prepared were incomplete (for instance there were no photos, no registration number, no Sarpanch’s signature) Job cards were being made on joint family basis in contravention of rules of NREGA Jharkhand It was observed that people in all the NREGA districts have paid money ranging from Rs. 20-120 for getting the job cards. Majority of the people have been charged between Rs. 30-60 for photographs (officials contend that since no fund has been provided for photographs, it is being charged to the beneficiary), It was also observed in some districts that deadlines were fixed for applying for job cards and in some cases job card applications were not accepted after the due date Madhya Job cards were not being distributed timely. In some districts jobs Pradesh cards were lying with the Panchayat Secretary for the past few months Photographs were not pasted on the job cards which was being put forward as an excuse for non-issuance of job cards It was also observed that people were not aware of the utility of the job cards There were also reports of touts asking for Rs. 200 in lieu of helping in getting the job card made Maharashtra Despite having history of EGS in the state less than 50% of those who have registered have got NREGS job card In Aurangabad district the government claims to have distributed 100% job cards but in reality just two of the five blocks in the districts have got 100% job cards In some districts APL people not being registered for the scheme by saying that the scheme is only for the BPL families Uttar Pradesh A situation has been created where it seems mandatory to have a printed registration form for application and most of the cases the forms are not available It was also observed that the authorities are taking a dilly-dallying approach to avoid paying unemployment allowance in case of non- provision of work 18 Status of NREGA Implementation 5.3.4. Payment of wages It has been reported that wages were not being paid according to the norms. Not only were there delays but the wages were lower than the prescribed minimum wages. In several areas topographic features as well as competition led to higher wages locally but there were no provisions in the NREGA to take this into account. Gender discrimination has also been reported. In Brijpura panchayat of Chhattrarpur district in Madhya Pradesh It was also observed that women were not engaged as much as men because according to the panchayat, they could not show progress with women labourers. In Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh it was found that the muster rolls are not being filled in the prescribed registers. Instead the panchayats are filling the wage payment details on plain paper. It was also observed that false data is being entered in the job cards. It was observed in Jamurva Buzurg Panchayat in Raibareli District that payments for the plantation work undertaken in August and September have not been released till date. Payment of wages State Situation on the ground Bihar Till date, work has been started at very few places. In some districts it was observed that wage payments was lower than what was stipulated and there were also report of delayed payments for the work undertaken under NREGP. Chattisgarh There was gross discontent among villagers about low wages, especially in areas of hard soil strata. Payment was done on the basis of the work done, however it seems there is no difference in the rates for normal soil and hard strata. Thus people did not get the complete wage for the work done. Jharkhand The state government hiked the minimum wage from Rs. 60 to Rs. 73. However the wages being paid at the NREGA worksites appear to be lesser than the old minimum wage rate. Madhya Rampant delay was observed in making payments due to the Pradesh non-availability of overseers for evaluation of works undertaken. At some places wages being paid were lower than the stipulated minimum wage for the agriculture labour, At some places, there was difference in wages being paid to male and female workers. Maharashtra Delays in wage payment was common at worksites, Sarpanch’s attribute this to non-release of funds from the Taluka office. In some places, gender discriminatory in wage payment was also observed. Uttar Pradesh In some of the areas wage rate stipulated by the government was less than the current market rate creating a disincentive for the people to come to the NREGS work sites. 19 Status of NREGA Implementation 5.3.5. Provision of worksite facilities While the act provides for extensive worksite facilities such as crèche and first-aid to be made available to the people there is little evidence of this in practice. Women with small children have been badly hit by this omission while the lack of first aid has endangered the workers since earth works do involve the possibility of injuries. At the most drinking water has been provided and that too has not been universal. Work Site facility State Situation on the ground Bihar In most of the cases inadequate worksite facilities were present. Apart from drinking water no other facility like crèche, first aid, shade were available at the worksites. Chattisgarh The worksite facilities in Chattisgarh were also very poor. There were no facilities like first aid kit or crèche. Women often complained that since the worksites did not have any facility for crèche, they either did not go for work or had to leave their children at home. Jharkhand There was complete lack of facilities at the work site People had very low level of awareness about the provisions related to facilities at work site Madhya As observed in most states worksite facilities were non existent, Pradesh Even the PRI representatives did not know about the facilities to be provided at the worksite. Maharashtra Facilities as per the provisions of the act were not being provided at the work sites. The local officials were ignoring directions of higher authorities with regard to the facilities that had to be provided. Uttar Pradesh Work had started in very small pockets hence it was difficult to draw conclusion at this stage, however at the few worksites there is hardly any facility available. 5.3.6. Unemployment allowance The act enjoins upon the concerned officials to pay unemployment allowance to those holding valid job cards if they are unable to provide work to the applicants. This provision has hardly been implemented even when work was not granted. While officials have made claims in this regard they are difficult to verify due to lack of valid receipts. The people were also hardly aware that they could claim such an allowance. Unemployment Allowance State Situation on the ground Bihar No unemployment allowance payment yet. The chief minister reportedly said to the officials that if unemployment wages were paid in any block that amount would be deducted from the 20 Status of NREGA Implementation State Situation on the ground concerned officials salary- this he said in front of TV cameras- (He probably meant that work should be provided to everyone who demands and he won’t bear any laxity on this account)-but the result is that officials are trying to discourage application for jobs. Chattisgarh Since there are no dated receipts given either for registration or job application it was very difficult to verify the official claim on delay in job provision. Hence there was no payment of unemployment wages. Jharkhand The awareness level of people regarding unemployment allowance is very low. At places the work was being done through contractors hence there had been no reports of actual unemployment allowance payment. Madhya There had not been any case of unemployment allowance being Pradesh paid till date. However, this was basically because people were either not getting any receipt for their application or they were not getting a dated receipt. Maharashtra Even in Maharashtra there had not been any case of unemployment allowance payment till date. This can be attributed to many reasons like lack of awareness among the villagers and lower level government officials, and non availability of dated receipts. Uttar Pradesh There are no instances of unemployment allowance payment from the state till date. It was also observed that awareness level was very low and most of the people did not even know about such provisions in the act. 5.3.7. Major Findings from Field Data There was very low awareness among citizens, elected representatives and government officials (at levels below block) and this has been a major reason for the flaws in the implementation of the scheme. It was observed that there while people were keen to work and some of them were also registering for work, there were very few states where the job cards had been disseminated properly. In places where the job cards had been provided, it was observed that there were a lot of anomalies. In most of the states it was observed that the Job cards were not being used. It was also observed that people were not applying for jobs. In some states where people did apply for jobs they were not receiving proper receipts. 21 Status of NREGA Implementation 5.4. Citizens’ Perspective on NREGA Looking collectively at the data gathered from 107 villages across 6 states, presents a varied picture where some aspects of the implementation process of REGS are being adhered to whereas some others are being neglected. Work had started in 55% of the villages covered. For the jobs generated male workers have had a slight edge with 51% of total jobs cornered. Looking at social categories break up in terms of jobs Scheduled castes had 23% of the total jobs whereas ST group had 38% of the jobs and the OBCs had 18% of the total job generated. Average wage payment for both the male and female workers was Rs. 53.75. In case of periodicity of payment of wages only in 26% of the instance wages were paid within 7 days of the stipulated task completed in 46% of the cases wages were paid in after 20 days of completion of the task. In case of distance of the worksite from village being more than 5 km only in 12 % of such cases 10% extra wage was paid. The measure of transparency was not very high given that muster roll and related documents were openly available in only 37% of the cases. Among the worksite facilities drinking water was omnipresent but crèche was available at less than 5% of the sites. The similar was the fate of the first aid facility at the worksite. For proper monitoring and supervision of the works additional manpower was available at less than 5% of the sites. There were cases of job demand reported in only 10% of the area covered. Comparative analysis of performance of NREGA Based on 107 sample village data Issue Uttar Pradesh Madhya Bihar Jharkha Maharashtra Chattisgarh Pradesh nd Work status – work started in – 50% works – Work – No – Work has – Work started in 70% villages completed started work started In 50% all the villages – 25% works in just going villages. covered, 15% completed 20% of on in work the the completed. Panchay surve ats yed covered villag e Jobs – SC : 28% – SC -1% – Hardly – N.A. – SC- 25% – SC-37% generated – -OBCs : 50% 200 – -OBC -42% – ST-15% – ST : 20% – ST-85% person – ST- 33% – OBC-8% – Women : 48% – OBC -3% days – Women-58% – Women-53% – Women : generat 39% ed so far Wage – Rs.58 for male – Rs.61 for – – N.A. – Wage – Rs. 60/day for payments and female both male payments in male and against and female the range female provision of – In 40% case Rs.20/- to Rs. 60-50% wage wages paid 52/day payment after 15 days between 1-2 week Transparenc – In 60% villages – In 30% – No – N.A. – In none of the – In 40% of the y muster rolls villages transpar villages, cases muster were read muster rolls ency muster rolls rolls read in the are read norms were openly GS being read followed Work site – 20% case, – 20% cases, – Even in – N.A. – 30% of the – In 10% of the distance worksites 5 km nowhere the case worksite cased worksite more than 5 away but only extra wages of farther than farther than 22 Status of NREGA Implementation Issue Uttar Pradesh Madhya Bihar Jharkha Maharashtra Chattisgarh Pradesh nd km in 50% of such paid distance 5km but no 5km but no cases extra being extra wages extra wages wages paid more paid. paid than 5 km no payment of extra wages Worksite – Drinking water – Drinking – No – N.A. – Drinking water – Drinking water Facilities available but water facilities available but available but crèche and first available but availabl crèche and first crèche and first aid facility rare. crèche and e at the aid facility rare aid facility rare first aid worksite facility rare Additional – At 15% job – At none of – No – N.A – No additional – No additional manpower sites additional the job sites provisio manpower manpower manpower additional n of available manpower extra available manpow er Job Demand – Job demanded – No demand – No – No – In one instance – No case of job in 10% of the made so far. demand dema job demanded, demand. villages but so far nd so job was even after job far provided after was provided 15 days after more without than 15 days in unemployment 90% of the allowance. cases no allowance was paid 5.4.1. Uttar Pradesh W or k St a t us- At least one work had been started in 70% of villages surveyed. Total estimate of works comes to Rs. 3,32,0500. Earliest starting month was April, 2006, and some works were started in October, 2006, too. Because of the intervening rainy season, hardly 25% of the works have been completed so far. Jobs ge ne r a t e d- Looking at person days break-up in terms of social categories, OBCs got away with a lion’s share, with more than 50% of the jobs generated going to them, followed by SCs (28%) and STs (20%). General category persons lagged behind, with less than 1% jobs generated so far. In gender terms, women constituted 46% of the total work force. Participation of disabled was at less than 5% of the worksites. Around 20% of job locations had workers who were above 60 years of age. By general observation, it was seen that the disabled and the elderly were not getting any different jobs but were being made to work just like any other able-bodied worker, and since wages were was based on task completed, they often lagged behind in securing minimum wages. W a ge Pa ym e n t s: As far as payments are concerned, the average payment was Rs. 58 for both male and female workers, which is less than the minimum stipulated in the Act i.e. Rs. 60. In less than 10% of cases, payment was done within 7 days, around 50% of wages were paid between one and two weeks, and almost 10% of payments were made after 20 days. The most common reason for delay was stated to be non-evaluation of 23 Status of NREGA Implementation completed work by the sub-engineer, while the absence of the Panchayat Secretary was cited as another. Transparency- In 60% of villages, muster rolls were openly read in the GS, whereas in 40% of the villages, it was not available for scrutiny. W or k sit e dist a n ce - In 20% of the cases, worksites were more than 5 km away from villages, but only in half of them an extra 10% was paid along with their wages. In cases where multiple works were going on, women were given preference in providing working closer to the village in 30% of such cases. W or k sit e fa cilit ie s- In terms of worksite facilities, drinking water was most common whereas a crèche was the rarest, available at less than 5% of worksites. First-aid boxes were also a rarity, with availability at less than 10% of work sites. Addit ion a l m a n pow e r for im ple m e n t a t ion - About 15% of sites had additional personnel deputed to monitor work; in most cases it was an accountant. 50% of respondents were satisfied with field personnel wherever they were. Job D e m a nd- In 10% of cases people applied for work but in 90% of these job applications, work was provided after 15 days without any unemployment allowance. No case of worksite injury was reported from any site. 5.4.2. Madhya Pradesh W or k St a t us- In block Paraswara of district Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh, which was chosen for the survey, work had started in all the surveyed villages with a total estimate of Rs. 1,60,00,00. The earliest work began in May and the latest in October, 2006. Around 50% of the works have been completed and of the works completed, none had a valuation lower than the estimate. Jobs ge ne r a t e d-. Looking at person days break-up in terms of social categories, STs had the largest chunk with more than 85% (Balaghat is a tribal district) of jobs generated, followed by OBCs (13%) and SCs with less than 1% jobs generated so far. In gender terms, women constituted 39% of the total work force. Participation of disabled was observed at less than 20% of worksites, whereas almost all the job locations had people of age group 60+ years working. W a ge Pa ym e n t s- As far as payment is concerned, the average payment was Rs. 61 for both male and female workers. In 20% of the cases wages were paid within 7 days, in 40% of cases wages were paid after 15 days, and in 20% cases it took more than 20 days to pay the wages. The reason for the delay was stated to be non-evaluation of completed work by the sub-engineer, and non -completion of work because of rains. Transparency- In just 30% of cases were muster rolls openly read in the GS, whereas in 70% of villages the muster roll was not openly available. 24 Status of NREGA Implementation W or k sit e dist a nce - In 20% of cases worksites were more than 5 km away from the village, but in none of the instances an extra 10% was paid as wages. In cases where multiple works were going on, women were given preference in working closer to the village in all such cases. W or k sit e fa cilit ie s- In terms of worksite facilities, drinking water was most common whereas a crèche was totally absent, available at none of the worksites; first aid boxes were also uncommon, reportedly available at 10% of the worksites. Addit ion a l m a n pow e r for im ple m e n t a t ion- At none of the sites was an additional personnel deputed to monitor work. Monitoring was done by the Panchayat Secretary, Panchs or Sarpanchs themselves. Job D e m a nd- There has been no instance of people applying for jobs. No case of worksite injury was reported from any site. 5.4.3. Bihar Eight blocks across three districts viz. Jamui, Muzaffarpur and Nalanda were covered in the study. Of the eight blocks and 11 Panchayats surveyed in the month of October, work had started in only two panchayats in Nalanda and one panchayat in Muzaffarpur. The total estimate of only Rs. 50,000 has generated only 200 person-days of work. As for the rest of the Panchayats, registration and job card distribution was going on at a sluggish pace. On enquiry, concerned personnel attribute the situation to two major factors, the first being the recent Panchayat elections, and second being the BPL survey. They are of the opinion that because of the recent panchayat elections, the incumbents are relatively inexperienced and were taking their time to initiate a novel scheme like BREGS in their areas. Lack of technical know-how is also an impediment. About the role – or lack thereof- of government machinery, officials are of the opinion that just after the Panchayat elections, they have been busy with the BPL survey, and only after its completion can they can focus on the BREGS. Moreover, there has been not a single appointment so far specifically for NREGA works, though there were very clear instructions in the guidelines to the effect. There is a massive lack of awareness about the Act and its provisions in the field, and even government officials are not completely aware of the scheme. Even after the Chief Minister’s focus on the BREGS and his appeal to officials to provide jobs on demand, there seems to have been no acceleration on their part to issue job cards and start of new works. It was only because of the CMs appeal that the official machinery cooperated with CSOs during the NREGA Week campaign in July, 2006. 5.4.4. Maharashtra W or k St a t u s- Work had been started in 50% of villages surveyed in Aurangabad and Yavatmal districts. In Nanded district, no work had yet begun. The total value of work was around Rupees 16.5-lakhs. All the works were started during April-May 2006. No work was complete till September, 2006. Jobs ge ne r a t e d- Looking at person-days break-up in terms of social categories, caste groups got away with 42% of jobs generated, followed by STs (33%) and SCs (25%). In gender terms, women constituted 58% of the total work force. This higher level of participation of women can be explained by the fact that the districts covered fall into 25 Status of NREGA Implementation migration the belt and most men migrate to the nearby industrial town during non-crop seasons. At none of the sites was participation of the disabled observed, and only at one worksite were people of age group of 60+ years were working. W a ge Pa ym e n t s- As for payments, at one site the average payment was Rs. 20/ day for both male and female workers. The concerned officials said that since payments are based on a piece rate, people were not able to complete the minimum work for the day, which is required for wages to be paid in full. At another site (earth work), payment was in the range of Rs. 45-Rs. 52 per day. It was because of this low wage that men found it more profitable to migrate. At two worksites, payments were made within a week, but at one of the sites, it took 15 days or more. The absence of evaluators was cited as a reason for the delay in payments. Another reason was the delay by the block office in clearing submitted bills. Transparency- In none of the villages covered were muster rolls openly read in the Gram Sabha. W or k sit e dist a nce - In just 30% of the cases were worksites more than 5 km away from the village, but only in none of them was an extra 10% paid as wages. In cases where multiple works were going on, women were given preference in working closer to the village. W or k sit e fa cilit ie s- In terms of worksite facilities, drinking water were the most common whereas no crèche was seen at any of the sites. First-aid boxes were also not common, with availability at only at 25% of the sites. Addit ion a l m a n pow e r for im ple m e n t a t ion - At none of the sites was additional personnel deputed to monitor work; in most cases, work was supervised by Panchs or the Panchayat Secretary. In about 50% of cases were people satisfied with the field personnel (Panchs, Panchayat Secretary) wherever they were. Job D e m a n d- In just one instance had people applied for a job, but a job was provided after more than 15 days and without any unemployment allowance being paid. One case of worksite injury was reported from one of the sites, but he was not provided free medical care by the authorities. 5.4.5. Chattisgarh W or k St a t u s- Work was going on in all villages covered in Chowki, Manpur and Mohla blocks of district Rajnandgaon. The total estimate of the work came to Rs 10-lakhs, with the first work started in the month of May and the latest in July. Around 15% of the works have been completed, and of the works completed, none had a valuation lower than the estimate. Jobs ge n e r a t e d-. Looking at the person-days break-up in terms of social categories, caste workers had 39% of total work generated, closely followed by SC workers with 37%. SC workers had 15% share and OBC workers 8% share of the total work generated. In gender terms, women constituted 53% of the total work force. Participation of disabled was not observed at any worksites, whereas almost all job locations had people of age group 60+ years working. 26 Status of NREGA Implementation W a ge Pa ym e n t s- As far as payments are concerned, the average payment was Rs. 60 for both male and female workers. In just 15% of the cases were wages paid within 7 days, in 60% of cases wages were paid after 15 days, and in 25% of cases, it took more than 20 days to pay the wages. The reason for delay was stated to be delay in release of funds from the Block office and non completion of work because of rains. Transparency- In just 40% of cases were muster rolls openly read in the GS, whereas in 60% of villages, the muster roll was not openly available. W or k sit e dist a n ce - In just 10% of cases were worksites more than 5 km away from the villages, but in no instance was an extra 10% paid as wages. In cases where multiple works were going on, women were not given any preference in working closer to the village in all instances. W or k sit e fa cilit ie s- In terms of worksite facilities, drinking water was available at all the worksites, whereas crèches and first aid boxes were found nowhere. Addit ion a l m a n pow e r for im ple m e n t a t ion - At none of the sites was additional persons deputed to monitor work. Monitoring was done by Panchayat Sewak or Panchs. Job D e m a n d- There has been no case of people applying for a job. No case of worksite injury was reported from any site. 5.4.6. Jharkhand Of the five villages covered which were spread over five Panchayats in four blocks, no work had been started till the time of data collection in October. The Jharkhand government had recently revised the minimum wage and increased it from Rs 60 to Rs 73 per day, but reportedly, in villages where NREGA work was going on, the actual payment was lower than even the earlier wage. During the survey, interviews of local officials were conducted in-charge of NREGA implementation. Their awareness level was found to be abysmally low, and in some cases, the officials failed to point out the difference between Food-for-Work Programmes and NREGA. The situation was no different for PRI representatives and Panchayat level government functionaries. There seems to be a complete lack of awareness about NREGA and its procedures, and it seems that the government effort to popularize JREGS had been minimal. In villages where some work under NREGA had begun, it was following the same pattern as earlier employment generation programmes, wherein there was no participation of people in selecting the work or mode of execution. It was being decided by block level officials at will, in collusion with a few PRI representatives and Panchayat level officials. 27 Status of NREGA Implementation 6. Institutional Hurdles - Panchayat Perspective 6.1. Envisaged role of panchayats in NREGA Gram Panchayats are central to the implementation of NREGA at the grassroots. The National Employment Guarantee Act envisages that at least 50% of the total works are to be executed by the Gram Panchayats. Remaining 50% jobs may be executed by other agencies such as the higher tier of panchayats, government departments or voluntary organizations. The Project officer at the block level will coordinate with the Gram Panchayat for facilitating the implementation of NREGS at the grass roots. The act ensures that Gram Panchayats have maximum control over the planning and resources as Gram Panchayats take decision on the 50% jobs. In any case the panchayats remains an important institution as the jobs are demanded from the panchayat and employment is generated at the Panchayats. Envisaged role of Gram Panchayat in execution of NREGA Make a development plan of the Panchayat and list out projects to be undertaken as NREGS in accordance with the Gram Sabha’s sanction. Registration of families and distribution of job cards. Receiving application for work and providing employment. Executing the work from amongst the development plan of panchayat, which has been sanctioned by the project office. Maintaining muster roll and distributing wages from the funds received under NREGS in the Panchayat account. At least 50% of works from the sanctioned one, will be executed through Gram Panchayat while the reaming 50% will be undertaken by the other execution agencies like Janpad Panchayat, District Panchayat, Government department and NGOs. The following three processes are working simultaneously at the block level with respect to the execution of NREGS at the Panchayat. (i) Panchayat have to make a plan and build a shelf of the project to be taken up in NREGS. (ii) People will demand work from Panchayats as an employment guarantee. (iii) Gram Panchayat acts as an implementing agency and provides employment as well as wages to workers. Gram Panchayat though plays an important role, however, it is not acting totally independently. It is supposed to execute the projects in close coordination of other institutions, individuals and processes. These may be related to the states preparedness in handling the ambitious national scheme or interface of technical staff for technical approvals with the panchayats. Each of these factors has influenced the institutional performance of the panchayats in the NREGS. Therefore it is necessary to examine each of these factors before concluding upon the panchayats efficiency and effectiveness in handling such an ambitious and resource rich scheme. In this section each of these factors are taken up to understand their influence at the grass-root level and the conflict posed at 28 Status of NREGA Implementation the panchayat with their interplay. The following factors influencing the performance of panchayats in implementing NREGS: Availability of the fund at the panchayats for the implementation of the NREGS Availability of the technical approval to the Gram Panchayats from the concerned authorities. Timely technical evaluation of the completed projects by the concerned departments so that the wages can be distributed in time. Flexibility to the panchayats in choosing the project, so that panchayats undertake work that is the priority of the community. Climatic, geographical and topographical features posing difficulties to the panchayats in undertaking the earthwork or work ‘directed’ in the national and state priorities. 6.2. State’s preparedness in handling the National Act- locally Many states are still struggling with the teething problems of implementation of the National act at the state level. Some of the states like Madhya Pradesh has been more active while some have had an extremely poor response. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, State Government passed its own state scheme in compliance with the National Act on 23rd May 2006. This resulted in a delay of the preparation of state guidelines and consequent implementations of the NREGS by the Panchayats in the state. The state councils were also formed late in many states. Therefore, even in case of problems, there is no avenue for redressal. Like in Jharkhand where 20 districts out of the 22 districts of the state are covered under NREGS, the state council has not been formed. Jharkhand and Bihar have had their peculiar problems due to lack of panchayat bodies in place to take up the program. The Panchayat election in Bihar was delayed and therefore, neither the panchayat nor the state was prepared to take the programme through panchayat. In Jharkhand the situation is even more difficult, where Panchayat elections have not taken place till date. The delayed election in panchayats in these two states obviously affected the performance. Many states like Uttar Pradesh have taken a long time to prepare operational guidelines. Sate council in many states were formed very late like Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. However, Jharkhand showed the spirit in implementing the state led employment guarantee scheme in the left out from NREGA districts of the state. Some states like Uttar Pradesh restricted the number of job cards to be issued. So that they could handle the demand for work with the number of technical staff currently available in the state. Maharashtra was very slow in implementing Madhya Pradesh has been amongst the the national act despite having the better performing states with highest experience of running a state run utilization of the central fund, notably employment guarantee scheme for more 90% of the work undertaken in than 30 years. Of the 41.4 lakh people in Madhya Pradesh is executed through Maharashtra who had applied for the job card Panchayats. only 10.95 had been issued the card. Chattisgarh has been extremely slow in Maharashtra and the Uttar Pradesh are issuing the job cards. Job cards had not been the states showing extremely poor issued in Rajpur block of Ambikapur district political will in the implementation. till the month of June. Yet the State Government issued orders for not providing 29 Status of NREGA Implementation unemployment allowance from 15 June to 15 October. 6.3. Unequal distribution of funds and the resource utilization in districts A Panchayat can initiate work in its Gram Panchayats only when funds are made available to the gram Panchayats account. However, in the last nine months of the implementation, many Panchayats did not receive the required grant in time. Similarly, there was a different response of the states as well as districts to the implementation of NREGA. Some states were very active in implementation like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan while some states lagged behind like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The policy of transfer of funds from the Centre to the State in implementation was more or less same across the board. Yet some of the districts more and some other districts received less grant. In Madhya Pradesh the first kick off grant was released by the centre in the month of March and April directly to the districts. Many districts with the same number of job cardholders received remarkably different amounts in the first kick off grant. Some of the better-prepared districts i.e. the districts with efficient administrative Some districts received remarkably low machinery and leadership like Sidhi amount in the first installment (for kick off) district in Madhya Pradesh, were quick to of NREGS grant from the centre. Therefore respond to the scheme. The panchayat’s the implementation in these districts was micro plans and shelf of project were greatly influenced. For example Umaria, ready with the perspective plan of the Tikamgarh, Chatarpur and Satna district in district. These districts were quick to use Madhya Pradesh were released relatively the first instalment of the grant which low amount in the April to kick off the was released somewhere in the month of programme. the March or April. The well-prepared districts consumed the first instalment so fast that there was a shortage of funds in these districts before the centre released a demand based second grant. For example Sidhi district in Madhya Pradesh was released Rs. 60 Crore as the first grant, but the district started executing projects whose cumulative budget exceeded Rs. 80 Crore. There was a fund shortage to the tune of Rs. 20 Crore in the district in the initial phase of the implementation of the scheme. The fund shortage was later replenished by the second release of 51 Crore in the district. In many other districts where perspective plans were not ready the execution of NREG got delayed. In both the cases, job cardholders demand work and delay in execution of work is seen as inefficiency of Panchayats as job cardholders make Panchayats accountable for the non- performance of scheme. 6.4. Top down implementation drive adversely affecting local planning The success of NREGA depends on two important factors - creation of employment for poor and needy, and creation of required infrastructure and productive assets in the scheme. This scheme probably provides the first ever, such a big opportunity to gram panchayat. Panchayat have freedom to plan large-scale work and execute the work with sufficient resources provided under the National Employment Guarantee Act. The legal provisions in the Act strengthen the Gram Panchayats for their control over the planning, implementation as well as resources. 30 Status of NREGA Implementation There are certain conditionality fixed in the National directives: The act stipulates that material to the labour ratio should not exceed 40 to 60. The directive is to undertake the earthwork under the NREGA. Water conservation work was given the top priority in the NREGA. In fact, Panchayats are suppose to make a perspective plan of a larger time frame and prepare a shelf of project, to be executed under the NREGS. However, in practice panchayats autonomy to plan according to their need was curtailed by state led top down campaigns. Due to too many guidelines and instructions either from the Mismatch of community needs and works national level or at the state, from undertaken the top, Gram Panchayat remains the notional decision maker in the Jaundi Panchayat in Badarvas block of Shivpuri whole process. Tacit ‘Advise’ is district in Madhya Pradesh has a Adhivasi hamlet in given by the chief its village. This hamlet is separated by the rest of executive/project officer of the the village by a seasonal nullah. This hamlet is cut block to Panchayat heads to off from the external world for many days during prepare project proposals in line the rainy season as the nullah over flows during with the state priorities. For rains. The Panchayat and community desperately instance, NREGS in Madhya needed an over-bridge on the nullah. However, Pradesh was merged with state panchayats was instead asked to take the road wide water conservation campaign construction. Similarly, in Mungaya village of Sareti and plantation drive. Similarly in Panchayat of Sidhi District, Madhya Pradesh, the Chattisgarh, many of the state villagers wanted to take up the level of land as the programs with specific objectives first activity in the NREGS. The village is are merged with the State dominated by poor scheduled caste people. They employment guarantee scheme. have very small land holdings and the village is Though well intended in content, dominated by undulated land. Leveling of the land these campaigns have jeopardized could have made it fit for the agriculture. However the Panchayat autonomy in the panchayat was directed to undertake the planning. Many indigenous plans of construction of a new well and recharge of an old the panchayat are sacrificed for well. The water from the well may not be used for the state-wide directives for the agriculture on such difficult land. success of the state led campaigns. Thus the immediate and essential needs of the people were compromised. Small things like repair of drains couldn’t be undertaken, as Panchayats in NREGS districts do not have any flexible funds. In Madhya Pradesh Jala Abhishek campaign during the summer for water conservation was followed with Hariyali drive for the plantation during monsoon, took away any opportunity of panchayat centered planning. A little later panchayats were once again asked to make a six monthly plan under the name of Kapil Dhara for undertaking work on roads, wells and ponds. In a survey undertaken in six districts of Madhya Pradesh in the month of June covering five panchayats each, there is a clear mismatch on priorities of the people vis-à-vis work initiated in Panchayat. From a social mapping exercise, undertaken in five panchayats each of six districts of Madhya Pradesh on priorities of the panchayat and the actual works sanctioned, shows a distinct mismatch between priorities and NREGS projects. The work 31 Status of NREGA Implementation initiated at the Panchayat is usually of 8th to 10th work in the order of priority of the people of the Panchayat. Experiences in U.P The plantation drive was commonly seen in many states. Such drives jeopardized the panchayat plans. State led campaigns were more or less forced on the panchayats. In many such drives specifically the plantation drive, the provision of the act, or the autonomy of gram panchayat in planning was compromised. Not only this, the expenditure provisions, autonomy of Gram panchayat in handling the resources and the ratio of wages to the material was over looked. For instance in Uttar Pradesh, the state used the NREGS resource to plant Seven hundred and Ninety lakh (790 lakh) in the state-wide plantation campaign. The administration simply asked the Panchayats to buy plants from it at the rate of 7500 thousand rupees for 500 plants. The Panchayats head of the Gram Sabha had little role in the campaign. Panchayats Secretaries were summoned and the drive was carried out in their association. The Pradhans are not any more willing to undertake the NREGS because they are only used as rubber stamps by the administration and the Panchayat Secretaries. They are scared that they might be implicated tomorrow for the cheques that panchayat secretaries are making them sign. Experience in M.P Roadside plantation has been taken around the Nanda panchayat in Betul block of Betul district of Madhya Pradesh. Since need protection from animals etc therefore, most of district has passed executive orders for taking protective measures to save saplings. Therefore, in Betul district a barbed iron wiring fencing on cement polls was undertaken around plantation area. 1.5 mtr high barbed wire was tied to cement polls placed at a gap of 2.25 mtrs. In the preparatory phase undertaken in the panchayat out of total expenditure of Rs. 3.77 lakhs, only a paltry sum of Rs.67143/- (18%) was spent on wages to unskilled labours and on material Rs.3,09,857/- (82%) has been spent. Though there is some indirect labour payment to people preparing the cement poles all around the district but it is difficult to calculate the exact proportion of wages to the material. The implementation of the campaign, when looked at macro level gives a reasonably positive picture on expenditure norms. However, the micro realities are sometimes quite contrary and deceptive. For instance the plantation drive at many districts was pushed Citizens denied work on demand by the district administration in violation of In Kundupuru village of Aurangabad District prescribed norms of expenditure ratio. Maharashtra, Rs. (188736/-) One lakh Thirty eighty thousand seven hundred and thirty six Compulsory earthwork in NREGS is sometime has been sanctioned on the NREGS. From unable to accommodate the panchayat’s amongst the75 families in the village 331 need or available conditions like land have applied for the registration and have resource & seasonal cycle. Many Panchayat the job card. 150 families in the village do not have adequate land to undertake the requested the Panchayat to provide them the ‘directed ‘work under NREGS and Panchayat job but panchayat could not provide any job heads are waiting for further directives from to them. Since, according to the Panchayat Secretary, the required site for undertaking the state on the issues. In fact an insensitive the ‘Directed’ activity is not available with district administration furnished Panchayats the panchayat. 690 people of the panchayat for not being able to take up the work. Five have submitted a memorandum to the panchayat secretaries in Betul District of Collector on this issue. Madhya Pradesh were suspended for their 32 Status of NREGA Implementation failure to undertake plantation drive. The Secretaries mentioned that heavy rains and overflowing Tapti River forced them to initiate this. In many states the release of the instalment to the Panchayat coincides with the beginning of the rains in the panchayat. Panchayats in such situation failed to undertake NREGS. For instance digging of a pond in Kholdabagh panchayat in Aurangabad district was sanctioned but due to heavy rains panchayat could not undertake the work. It is also found that many Panchayat do not have adequate land to undertake the ‘directed’ work under NREGS and Panchayat heads are waiting for further directives from the state on this issue. Similar complaints were heard in Huddi Tola, Sonepuri and Dhondi Panchayats of Madhya Pradesh. Members of the Baiga community articulate that the provisions of the NREGS did not suit the local conditions. Delays in implementation had led to large-scale migration since the people had no work. 6.5. Inadequate flexibility in guidelines for addressing local issues Experts on the issue prepared the state and the national guidelines, however, there are many unforeseen conditions that cannot be anticipated. Panchayats need at least minimum flexibility and sensitivity to handling by the administration. For instance in Rajnandgaon district of Chattisgarh, construction of pond and other water conservation structure are being pushed by the state administration, however, the local soil condition is such that the water seeps in, and can not be stored for long, if strong bottom base (pitching) of the pond is not prepared. However, Panchayats with NREGS resources could not undertake such investments. Rigid guidelines may impact quality of work Deepening of the pond in Noguan Darshan Singh village in the Sidhi block of the Siddhi district, Madhya Pradesh was stuck .The strata had very large boulders and stones which could not be lifted manually. Panchayats asked for permission for the use of machine but was refused for the same. It took Panchayat substantial amount of time and energy to lift the boulders manually. Some of the boulders could not be lifted as they were too heavy and they are still submerged in the water. The wage rate was also substantially reduced for which Panchayat could do nothing Similarly Tappa Panchayat in Dongargarh block of the Rajnandgaon district of Chattisgarh judiciously planed for the age old water problem in their village. They decided to regenerate an old pond in their Panchayat which had been reduced to a dirty swamp. A weed by the name ‘Beshrram’ had covered the entire pond. The pond was not in use for many years. The local villagers along with the Panchayat were convinced that pond can meet their future need for water. They made the proposal for deepening of the pond under NREGS, which was duly accepted. However there was no provision for payment for clearing the ‘weed’. The cost of clearing the weed was running in several thousands rupees and could not be borne by the Panchayat or written off as local contribution. Panchayat had to take several trips to the district administration, yet their demands were not met. The case was further advocated at the state level and only then a solution could be found. 33 Status of NREGA Implementation 6.6. Hurdles of technical clearance in Gram Panchayat projects Before initiating a job, village panchayat is supposed to take technical approval from the Rural Engineering Services or other competent authorities. Further there is a need for technical estimates of the work and technical evaluation of the completed projects, for fixing the value of the project. Panchayats dependence on technical support may be listed as following o Getting technical permission for initiating any project under NREGS o Preparing technical estimates for the project to be executed by the panchayat o Measurements of the project executed and its final technical evaluation Most of the states were not prepared to efficiently handled manifold increase in civil Panchayat Samashpur, Shawla of Pratapgarh work that was initiated in NREGS. This district in Uttar Pradesh had passed a resulted in a shortage of technical staff. proposal in Gram Panchayat for de-silting of a pond in the panchayat. The Panchayat was Panchayats’ prerequisite of technical sanction allocated the fund for the activity. of NREGS Projects, delayed the execution of Unfortunately the panchayat could not take the job. Thus, despite having adequate funds up the execution of work because the in Panchayats and people being ready with technical permission was delayed for very job cards, Panchayats have failed to provide long time due to non-availability of technical jobs and could not execute work in time. It is staff. In many Panchayats there are generally stated by the Panchayat inadvertent delays in granting the technical representatives that there is an average sanction for executing the work delay of one month to start any civil work from the date of submitting the Panchayat’s proposal to the block office. Because of the delays in technical sanction of the projects it is also reported that elected representatives have to take several trips to the competent technical authority/person before the technical sanctions are granted for the projects. The speed at which a proposal gets technical sanction many a times depends on the Panchayats willingness to bribe the concerned technical officials. In the village of Tikaria of Manikpur block in Chitrakoot district, men of the village migrated to the near by town. The Sarpanch Shyamkali of the village informed that the block office had only registered 55 people for the job cards and they had not handed over the cards to the villagers. The Sarpanch wants to initiate the digging up of a pond but the Junior Engineer was demanding Rs.5,000/- as 1% Commission for sanctioning the proposed pond. The Panchayat Secretary whose signature is must in the job card is also missing for the last three months. on one hand the communities expect jobs and on the other, Panchayats have no control over the interfacing individuals. There are many such instances Deliberate over estimation and underestimation is where Panchayats are on one hand common in preparing the technical estimates. pressurized by the district Overestimates are helpful in pocketing the money administration to provide jobs under through the corrupt practices, while underestimates are used for troubling the Panchayats. For instance, Srijan a N.R.E.G.S, while the technical voluntary organization was given the responsibility of agencies harass Panchayats in executing NREGS in selected Panchayats of Tikamgarh providing technical sanction. It is district in Madhya Pradesh. They made plans for initiating also common that technical watersheds in the Panchayat. Srijan could execute the estimates are prepared irresponsibly project in substantially low budget as compare to the at the whims of the technical staff. estimated cost provided in the technical estimate. 34 Status of NREGA Implementation The Panchayats are forced to follow such estimates in absence of any alternative mechanism to check the same. 6.7. Inadequate support in developing sound technical estimates of civil works Panchayats are required to have sanction on a technical estimates prepared by the relevant authority. Therefore, panchayats performance is dependent on the speed at which the estimates are expedited as well as honesty and sensitivity in preparing the estimates. However, in the last few months of the implementation of the NREGS, panchayats have faced the difficulties in technical estimates of the civil work undertaken by them to undertake the job. Following difficulties faced by panchayats in technical support o Delay in getting guidance of Government civil engineers/concerned agency in preparation of technical estimates o Overestimation and underestimation of costs, during evaluation is common. Both are used as means of promoting corruption o Standardized measurement-rate norms are being followed in the district irrespective of varying local condition or topographical feature in a Panchayat. Many Panchayats, fail to complete the works at the standardized rate. As wage payments on piecework basis is disproportionate to the labour put in. Though most Panchayats, are able to prepare a rough estimate of the projects. They need support in preparing technically sound projects. Panchayats also need support in preparing the estimates in technical language. However, the Panchayats can obtain the same from a specific competent authority. There are no alternatives to take technical help from. There are also no mechanisms, whereby Panchayats can be given time bound feed back on technical aspects. This increases the Panchayat’s dependence on the technical staff of the Department. Mostly Panchayats are willing to appease the technical staff so that their projects are not tangled in technical approvals. More so it standardized measurement rate, Standardized measurement rate followed in the entire district, poses challenges forces Panchayat to pay wages at on the Panchayat having difficult terrain or lower rate distant location from the material source. Chamori Sangram Gram Panchayat in Though differential NREGS rates are fixed for a Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh different type of geographical terrain, yet in undertook the deepening of the wells practice, standardized measurement rate is under NREGS. The terrain is rocky and followed in the districts. Thus, a panchayat, there is hard soil at the bottom of the which is located very far away in the interiors well. Therefore, deepening of the well have to bear the additional cost of was costlier compared to a normal soiled transportation of material. Similarly a terrain. Yet the panchayat was paid on panchayat, which has hard soil or rocky terrain, the standardized rate prescribed in the district for a normal terrain. To save the gets no extra cost for excavation work. loss of the panchayat, the sarpanch paid a wage of Rs.40-50 to the labourers who During the execution of the work, large boulders worked on the well deepening. and similar material are often found while undertaking the earthwork such deepening of the pond or digging of the well. Use of the manual labour not only makes the task extremely difficult and time consuming but also adversely affects the wage rate, as measurement of such works become a difficult task. 35 Status of NREGA Implementation However the community expects the provisioned rate while the department’s technical norms only allow the wage rate as per the cost calculation by the technical staff. Panchayat’s repeated requests to allow use of machines in such cases are normally turned down by the departments. 6.8. Unfair technical evaluation of the civil works done Shortage of staff, as well as vested interests normally delay the evaluation of completed projects of Panchayats. For instance in Madhya Pradesh, there are 5 to 6 Sub Engineers, posted in a block, managing 60 to 80 panchayats on an average. Therefore, one engineer is supposed to manage approximately 10 Panchayats. In tribal districts, the hamlets itself are very sparsely located. Thus, each sub engineer has to cover a large area, especially in states and districts having lower population density. Many Panchayat heads surveyed in Madhya Pradesh told that a sub engineer visits the site of Panchayat covered by him/her approximately not more than once in a month. Therefore, there is little technical support by the sub engineer. Additionally, there is a gap of one to two months for technical evaluation. Therefore, projects keep pending at the Panchayat level for final evaluation reports and submission for payments. These delays have bearing on the wage disbursement to the community. Since the material cost is fixed, the Panchayats make all the adjustment needed to equalize the actual cost evaluated with the wage rate. The delay in payment to the people is proportional to the time taken in completion of technical evaluation of the work done. It is a common practice by the sub engineers to call the sarpanches to their residence instead of coming to the site for technical evaluation of the project. Therefore, unless the project is cleared, the Sarpanch is very sceptical of making payment to the people. Many a times the money paid as bribe or mismatch between the actual cost and the evaluated cost are deducted from the wages of the poor labourers by Panchayats. Technical evaluation delays and the wage payment of labours The extremely well intended beginning of NREGS scheme in February in Madhya Pradesh witnessed detailed instructions from the Rural Development Department to the districts, blocks and Gram Panchayat for smooth implementation. The office orders maintained at the Gram Panchayat should have a buffer of project and resources. The intention was that the panchayat should not face scarcity of projects or resources and work should be generated easily on demand. However, contrary to this, there has been inadvertent delay for initiation of project at Panchayat level. The minimum gap of 2-3 months takes place between the proposal sent by panchayat and the technical approval thereof by the Department. Gram Panchayat Daura in Sinhawal block of Sidhi District undertook mud bunding and construction of soak pits around the hand pumps in the month of June under the NREGS. The Sarpanch requested the Sub Engineer to undertake the evaluation so that he could safely make payments to the workers. However, the evaluation took place only after two months by mid August. This puts the Sarpanch in a fix. If he would made the payments, he would have incurred losses due to discrepancies in technical evaluation and if he would decided to withhold the wage payment, the community as well as the officials blamed him for corrupt practices. Since the material cost is fixed, sarpanches have only the wages to manipulate for meeting the losses. 36 Status of NREGA Implementation 6.9. Delayed departmental response/permission affects Panchayat’s performance Panchayats are depending on many other individuals and departments while implementing the employment guarantee schemes. For instance Panchayat need the Patwari’s help in identifying the Government land available for undertaking construction. Similarly, they need bank’s support in speedy disbursement of grant etc. These interfacing institutions are not bound by the panchayat request. There is no time bound procedure for these individuals/departments to attend to panchayat request. Many a times such individuals delay the execution of NREGS due to their casual and careless attitude. The situation is acute in case of forest villages, where panchayats are required to take additional permission from the forest department before undertaking any construction in the village. The Panchayats make the proposal and takes several trips to the department for clearance of the proposal. There are cases, when a panchayat gets tired of unresponsive forest department and decides to initiate the work without their permission, they bear the consequences of the wrath of the department. Forest Department in Forest Villages forces Panchayat to not initiate NREGS Bhimpur block of Betul district has a Forest Village by the name of Imlidhoh. Koruku tribals are the dominant habitants of the village and they migrate for approximately 9 months every year. Imlidhoh was disbursed Rs.3 lakh for initiating the NREGS in the village. The proposal made by the Gram Panchayat could not be approved by the forest department and the poor Korukus continued their migration. The villagers made several verbal as well as written request of the department to pass their proposals. Subsequently in the month of September the Gram Sabha was organized in the village in presence of sarpanch Manchilove and the Panchayat Secretary. They again informed that the proposal has already been sent to the Forest Department. The villages made a joint application of 94 job cards holder of the village and even took a receipt for the same from the Sarpanch. This proposal was taken by the villagers and the Sarpanch collectively to the Forest Department. The villagers threaten the department that if they do not give permission to the department will have to pay the unemployment allowance to the villagers or else they will start the work without departmental permission. This organized effort only could move the department to act and provide sanction for road construction in the village. However, many forest villagers are running to the forest departments but their is no time bound process for the departments act upon the proposal on the NREGS placed by the panchayat of the forest villages 6.10. State’s response on grassroots difficulties of Panchayats The states machinery, by and large is satisfied with the implementation of NREGS. They are of the view that inefficiency and problems are temporary and caused by several reason. 37 Status of NREGA Implementation Technical support The workload at the district has increased many folds after the implementation of NREGS. The competency and available human resources were inadequate to handle the same. However, it is a teething problem that all the states are facing and almost all the states are undertaking massive recruitment and trainings to handle the scarcity of the human resources. Most states like Madhya Pradesh are as stating that they will be able to handle the shortage of technical staff by December 2006. To overcome the additional workload on panchayat in record keeping, Panchayats will be provided mates at Panchayat level. Many of the states have prepared detailed operational guidelines whereby they have also permitted the use of the machines such as road rollers to improve the quality of the work by the panchayats. Panchayat’s autonomy in planning The states have pushed the specific issue based campaigns like water conservation or plantation to push the NREGS in the beginning. It was felt by the state authorities that if such thrust is not given to the Panchayat, there may be very slow implementation. However, such drives had no other intention. According to the government representatives, panchayats are provided with all the flexibility to prepare their own plan. Even after preparing a long-term perspective plan; panchayats can change the plan according to the changed need of the community. The states have responded by saying that the panchayats plans are supreme and will be sanctioned. The Madhya Pradesh Secretary of Rural Development Department also mentioned that they are forwarding a request to the centre to allow different type of jobs under the NREGA. That is if a panchayat needs to undertake the construction of a building or check dam or any other such structures, they should be allowed to do so. Even the material and labour ratio as fixed in the provisions should also be flexible in such situation. NREGA has extensive potential for changing the poverty condition in the poorest districts of the country. Also the programme has tremendous potential for strengthening the local institution of Panchayats. It is only when the Panchayats are given sufficient autonomy and authority in executing the NREGS, it is possible that local priorities and development will be fulfilled along with employment creation. The above section has tried to build up a case where panchayats if given more flexibility, sensitivity and support in implementation of NREGA, will be able to emerge as strong local self-governance institutions. Work in progress under NREGS 6.11. Positive examples of NREGA Villagers of Bankhedi and Rewadih of Jungalpur Panchayat through their initiative and efforts showed that infrastructure development under NREGA can change the face of the locale and at the same time provide meaningful employment to the local populace. As things stood out for decades, the mud roads connecting Jungalpur to Bankhedi and Jungalpur to Rewadih 38 Status of NREGA Implementation were in a bad shape even in dry months. During rains it was impossible to tread the road even on foot. Villagers had been demanding the construction of WBM roads for the past 15 years but no line department paid ay heed. Finally in 2006 after the promulgation of NREGA the villagers with the support of a local CSO demanded the construction of roads and got them sanctioned. The projects together were worth 25 lakhs which involved construction of total 4 km of WBM roads. A total of 152 hh from Junglepur and 25 hh from Bankhedi and Rewadih got 35 days jobs during the works which got completed without any dispute which were common in works carried out by contractors. The new road has become a beacon of hope and development for the villages boosting not only rural transportation but also facilitating access to education, participatory decision making and supply of essential items. Villagers are of the opinion that this positive outcome is a result of the unique provisions of the NREGA which ensures transparency and proper utilization of funds. In Tilgara panchayat of Dhar District in Madhya Pradesh, the works taken up under NREGA has changed the living conditions of people to a large extent. This year, several activities were taken under the programme in the village, which has created nearly 16000 man- days of work in the village. Sustainable infrastructure has been created in the village, which is benefiting in more ways than one. People gained work during the lean agricultural period. This resulted in fewer people taking loans from the money lenders. In the village Aasra of block Dongargaon in district Rajnandgaon in Chattisgarh, after the initial drive of NREGA most of the households had got registered and got the REGS job cards, but even after passage of 3 months no work had started in the village. During a chance meeting with the representatives of a local CSO on 24th May 2006, the villagers came to know that they have to apply separately for work and just having job card doesn’t entitle them to guaranteed job. After getting convinced with the idea the villagers applied for job on the 26th of May. On 10th June they got work in their own village at a pond deepening site and along with them people from another hamlet of the village got work at the site. 39 Status of NREGA Implementation 7. Ways forward NREGA is primarily a new initiative with an existing political will at the centre as well as in several states where NREGA is being operationalised. The monitoring results of NREGA implementation have highlighted several issues of concerns from different stakeholders’ point of view. Therefore, it is pertinent to find ways of improving implementation of the programme: The following interventions are suggested: 1. Build la r ge sca le cit ize n’s a w a r e ne ss ca m pa ign s for ge n e r a t in g de m a n d side of N REGA: There are two ways to generate large scale awareness amongst citizens. The first is the model used in large scale education programmes, which involves building a cadre of volunteers and taking up village level campaigns to educate citizens on their rights and informing Panchayats on their responsibilities. The other kind of mass mobilization is an intensive targeted campaign using electronic media, like the pulse polio programme that reaches out to almost every family in the country. The NREGA campaign could be a mixed approach where, on one hand, electronic media could be used to make the scheme popular while on the other, traditional communication methods - padyatra, village level meetings, street play, and local folk media - could be used to reach the most disadvantaged sections of society, along with the support of civil society organizations. The awareness campaigns not only provide basic information about the act as well as card holders’ rights for 100 days employment, but also provide guidance in exercising their rights. The ongoing efforts of the Government to popularize the scheme as well as of the civil society to reach out to the potential families need to be up scaled and intensified. The success of the programme will largely depend on the effectiveness of demand raised by the citizens. 2. I m pr ove in st it u t ion a l ca pa cit ie s of Gr a m Pa n cha ya t : The panchayats has been identified as the key implementation organization for NREGA. Under NREGA, a panchayat of 100 households willing to work under NREGS will receive around Rupees 10-lakh as wages and material cost. Since this amount is almost 3 times more than what they usually receive, it has serious implications, especially their capacity to use such a big amount meaningfully by generating employment as well as creating productive assets. Moreover, panchayats are required to maintain multiple registers to keep records of NREGS as prescribed by the Centre/state. It is imperative to build their capacity to handle the record keeping system as per norms, as many Panchayats continue to use the single entry system for their accounts. In order to build Panchayats as an effective executing agency for NREGA, it is an essential pre-requisite to invest heavily on strengthening their perspective, knowledge and skills in the following areas: Developing perspective/ development plans of villages with Gram Sabha participation 40 Status of NREGA Implementation Basics of civil engineering and preparing cost estimates of works Perspective on relevance of social audits/ transparency in business transacted Sensitivity and vision in involving the disabled, women and other disadvantaged sections Skills in book-keeping and accounts, maintenance of created assets, including tax collection. 3. Pro- active planning for effective engagement of block and district Panchayats: A clear role must be carved out for Zila Panchayats and Janpad Panchayats in order to involve them under NREGA. The higher tiers of PRIs need to be more actively involved in NREGS implementation for visioning districts as a unit of development. The piece meal approach of treating village Panchayats as units of development will affect comprehensive livelihood planning keeping in mind the advantages of economies of scale. Increasingly, it is being realized that basic work that can be done within the boundaries of the panchayat will be exhausted in the coming few years, following which a majority of work will involve boundaries of multiple panchayats, viz. link roads, large irrigation systems, common markets, etc. Consequently, the higher tiers of Panchayats will have a more important role in receiving funds for multi-Panchayat projects, and will have to actively engage households in partnership with the concerned village Panchayat. The higher tier of Panchayats are also better suited to levy taxes, build mechanisms of operation & maintenance of large scale assets, and hire staff at the block level for more efficient & cost effective delivery of services. There is also a need to build mechanisms for handling joint responsibilities of the three tier system. 4. Ade qua t e a t t e n t ion t o st r e n gt he n villa ge N igr a ni Sa m it is: The success of the programme will heavily depend on active engagement of the Gram Sabha to make elected Panchayats accountable for proper utilization of available resources by effective monitoring. As the Gram Sabha is a broad assembly of all citizens, it is important to recognize the role of village/ Panchayat Nigrani Samiti. Village monitoring committees need to be formed as per the guidelines in most of the panchayats in NREGS states. The members of such committees need to be oriented towards their role and should be empowered to make their panchayats display basic information of NREGS implementation in the Gram Sabha. The committee can share some of the responsibilities of panchayats viz. conducting social audits, identifying families deserving work under NREGS and resolving conflicts between beneficiaries and panchayats. In Sarguja district of Chattisgarh, district administration planned training of village Nigrani Samitis in every Panchayat involving civil society. A large scale training programme need to be visualized to reach out to every Panchayat for strengthening village Nigrani Samities. 5. Fle x ibilit y for t e ch n ica l sa n ct ion of civil w or k s a n d a udit of a ccou n t s t h r ou gh com pe t e n t pr iva t e pr ofe ssiona ls: Efforts are being made in all states by the Government to appoint technical staff to support the planning of large scale civil works as well as technical audit of works done for final payment. Similarly, accounts also need to be properly audited on a regular basis to maintain highest standards of financial accountability. 41 Status of NREGA Implementation The proposed additional staffing under NREGA by the government will take a much longer period depending on the kind of effort being made by each state government. It has been observed that the government’s technical staff harass panchayats representatives in providing technical sanction or conducting financial audit. They also demand bribes to approve schemes even without visiting the site or reviewing the document. This results in ineffective supervision, corruption and delay in clearance of payments to Panchayats. Delayed receipts in Panchayats adversely affect payments of wages to job-card holders. There is a need to recognize professionals available at the district or nearby town, such as chartered accountants, civil engineering firms, architects, etc. who can be hired by panchayats on rates fixed by the government. This will help expedite the process of clearing projects and their evaluations. Moreover, it will also create competition and reduce dependence on the government system. The overall gain would be in terms of reducing corruption and addressing non-performance by Panchayats on account of lack of available expertise/technical sanction. There should also be a time-bound system of technical sanction and evaluation. The departments should be accountable to meet the fixed deadlines. In case of intended delays, the departmental staff should also be liable for punishment. 6. I m pr ove d t e ch n ologica l opt ion s for pe r for m a nce a n d m on it or ing: The website of NREGA is not regularly updated and provides inadequate information on employment generated, funds allocated, state-wise average utilization etc. There is also a need to include break-up of the social category of families benefited, i.e. SC/ST and women-headed households under NREGA. This break-up is essential if the scheme aims to reach out to the poorest of the poor. In aggregate terms, such differentiated realities of vulnerable sections go unnoticed. There are several poor widow women and disabled persons who are not getting employment. They have a right to be employed as helpers etc. They will be unable to avail of such jobs unless regular reporting formats create a space for getting official information on these parameters so that questions can be asked on inadequate representation of such categories in the list of benefited persons or families. Currently, the available data is not provided below the district level i.e. block-wise and panchayat-wise details of funds transferred, families benefited and works completed. It is necessary to expedite the establishment of computerized system of data recording and enable its access at the district level as well as keep information below the district level so that more transparent ways of functioning may be developed at the lower level of decentralized governance. 7. Establishme n t of infor m a t ion r e sou r ce centres a nd h e lplin e in colla bor a t ion w it h civil socie t y or ga niza t ion s: There are many remote blocks of the NREGA districts, which have concentrated population of SC or ST families. Distance from the district/ block as well as weak infrastructure and low levels of literacy leave deserving families helpless. Potential families have very basic queries related to various provisions of the Act and benefits of the programme, which are normally not provided to them either by the panchayat or by field level government functionaries. 42 Status of NREGA Implementation The information centres will also be responsible for collecting basic issues highlighted by the citizens/ families and panchayats, and provide such information to the district administration or concerned officials at the state level which is implementing NREGA for quick redressal. Voluntary organizations selected for each block to run information centres should be responsible to build capacities of Nigrani Sam it is and strengthen panchayats for their improved performance, keeping a team of professionals available on call by the Panchayats. The professional will be mobile and reach to the Panchayat site in case of any call for support. 8. Br oa d ba sing St a t e le ve l N REGA com m it t e e a n d pr om ot in g cu lt ur e of inclusiveness: Inclusion of some civil society representatives, district collectors, district level panchayat presidents, media representatives etc. in the planning process is essential so that diverse stakeholder concerns are expressed and incorporated. The meetings of the NREGS State committee must happen on a fixed periodicity, so that such committees do not remain as a mere formality or a clearing house for policy decisions proposed by the executives. A culture of Jan Sunwai on a six-monthly basis should be established at the State level as a collaborative programme of the State with civil society, along with a formal release of six-monthly reports on the performance of NREGA by the Government through a seminar, where various stakeholders, including the media, academia and grassroots activists present their experiences and point of view. State level committee members should also remain present during the seminar so that the committee may contribute more meaningfully in guiding the operational framework of NREGA. The ways forward provided in this section are based on the emerging issues from the experiences of the NREGA monitoring. The intensity of engagement of civil society with the implementation process will provide newer challenges and alternative ways forward. NREGA should be treated as an evolutionary programme which will not only affect the fundamental right to live with dignity but also set standards and exemplar for fulfilling many other promises and guarantees of a welfare state. 43 Status of NREGA Implementation Annexure Data From NREGA Website Table 1. Districts and Number of Rural Households S.No. State Districts Rural households % to total household 1 Bihar 23 8943456 28.7 2 Chattisgarh 11 1792584 5.8 3 Jharkhand 20 3806040 12.2 4 Madhya Pradesh 18 3890287 12.5 5 Maharashtra 12 3706706 11.9 6 Uttar Pradesh 22 9021545 29.0 TOTAL 106 31160618 Data Source: nregp.nic.in, August 2006 Table 2. Registered Families and Job Cards Issued % Registered hh that received the State Rural households Applications Job cards issued job cards Bihar 8943456 2401836 1071522 44.6 Chattisgarh 1792584 1696860 1534636 90.4 Jharkhand 3806040 1879011 1205239 64.1 Madhya Pradesh 3890287 4281258 4144413 96.8 Maharashtra 3706706 4139778 1094659 26.4 Uttar Pradesh 9021545 2694325 2464057 91.5 TOTAL 31160618 17093068 11514526 67.4 Data Source: nregp.nic.in, August 2006 Table 3. Employment Demanded vs Employment Provided Employment provided in State Employment demanded Employment provided percent Bihar 533009 505281 94.8 Chattisgarh 165245 162480 98.3 Jharkhand 501388 501388 100.0 Madhya Pradesh 1913133 1804953 94.3 Maharashtra 192867 183075 94.9 Uttar Pradesh 1792390 1684110 94.0 TOTAL 5098032 4841287 95.0 Data Source: nregp.nic.in, August 2006 Table 4: State Wise Expenditure against Funds released State No. of works Funds released Expenditure % exp to total released Bihar 17619 40503.38 5171.194 12.8 Chattisgarh 9671 17321.72 9834.02 56.8 Jharkhand 9513 37618.59 Madhya 69783 109384.1 40380.9 36.9 44 Status of NREGA Implementation State No. of works Funds released Expenditure % exp to total released Pradesh Maharashtra 6152 17961.65 4441.42 24.7 Uttar Pradesh 25105 33498.69 8512.28 25.4 TOTAL 137843 256288.1 53334.6 20.8 Data Source: nregp.nic.in, August 2006 Amt. In Rs Lakh Table 5. Funds Released per Registered Family State Registered households Funds released Funds released per registered family Bihar 2401836 40503.38 1686.35 Chattisgarh 1696860 17321.72 1020.81 Jharkhand 1879011 37618.59 2002.04 Madhya Pradesh 4281258 109384.1 2554.95 Maharashtra 4139778 17961.65 433.88 Uttar Pradesh 2694325 33498.69 1243.31 TOTAL 17093068 256288.1 1499.37 All India Average 35167503 570242.53 1621.50 Data Source: nregp.nic.in, August 2006 Amt. In Rs Lakh 45 Status of NREGA Implementation Sample villages for the Study Coverage State District Block Panchayat Village Badausa Udaipur Hadha Talaiyya Purva Udaipur Naktapurva Semaria Bhusasi Dhanael Duwariya Naraini Barehada Badausa Hadha, Nagwara, Bajrangpur, Nagwara Barehata, Dhanael, Semaria, Basrehi Banda Nandna Nandna Nagnedhi Semaria Mirdaha Hastam Bhaggu Adhrori Baan Baba Mahua Tirra ka Purva, Adhrori, Chak Takuli, Khamhora Hastam, Khamhaura, Uttar Pradesh Kusbandhiya ka Purva Agara Agara Jaspura Galoli Galoli Khateha Khurdha Khateha Khurdha Puranpur Jatora Sitapur Kasmanda Vikrampur Vikarampur Chanhera Bar Bar Lalitpur Bar Bhailoni Lodh, Bhailoni Lodh Bamhori Sahna, Kadari Kihuniyan Kihuniyan Tikariya Tikariya Chitrakoot Manikpur Khinchari Khinchari Manganwa Manganwa Barera Rasulpur Pratapgarh Kala Kankar Samaspur Samaspur Shelwara Shelwara 46 Status of NREGA Implementation State District Block Panchayat Village Atwan Asigawan Atwan Asigawan Budhagaon Budhagaon Hardoi Tadiyavan Patkuan Patkuan Pura Bahadur Pura Bahadur Purva Devariya Purva Devariya Usargaon-Manora Usargaon Baragaon-Riniva Baragaon Jalaun Dakor Minora Minora Orai Uttar Pradesh Jaisari-Khurd Jaisari Aunta Aunta Kaali Pahadi Kali Pahadi Ganj Ganj Mahoba Kavrai Mirtala Mirtala Salarpur Salarpur Palka, Manjhalwara Manjhalwara Ghodadehi, Ghodadehi Lotmara Paraswara Badgaon Badgaon Madhya Pradesh Balaghat Sukdi, Jagantola, Sukdi Roopjhar, Lagma, Baihar Sonpuri Sonpuri, Ukwa Chinvariya Chinvariya Lakshmipur Mariya Mariya Jamui Kundhur Kundhur Giddor Patsandha Patsandha Ratanpur Ratanpur Sirajabad Sirajabad Sakra Gannipur Bejha Gannipur Bejha Muzaffarpur Kurhni Shahpur Maricha Shahpur Maricha Bihar Bochha Rampur Jaipal Vishnupur Narayan Muroll Pilkhi Gagpati Pilkhi Gagpati Koilawa Koilawa Harnaut Barah Kalyan Bigha Dihri Dihri Nalanda Korai Korai Bihar Sharif MeghiNagva MeghiNagva Pachauri Pachauri 47 Status of NREGA Implementation State District Block Panchayat Village Parsadakshin Parsadakshin Basuari Basuari Bihar Madhubani Ghagordiha Amahi Amahi Nauva Bakhar Nauva Bakhar Sarauti Sarauti Baratand, Barhi, Barhi Purv Dhobi Tola Barhidih, Barhi Barhi Paschim Afeenkoti, Ujjaina, Telitola Konra, Podya, Jharkhand Hazaribag Konra Harla Belgadha, Chanaro Chichikala, Chanaro Churchu Dumar, Lara, Churchu Baali, Bodra, Lasod, Jordaag Bhandraitola, Bharratola Tumudikassa, Chowki Bharratola Korchatola Korchatola Chattisgarh Rajnandgaon Chhindwadi, Manpur Chhindwadi Marar para, Etegarda Duritola, Gidhali Mohla Kanglutola Gidhali Amatula Amatula Durkhed, Alsana, Buldhana Shegaon Durkhed Janori Ambala Ambala Kannad Muddesh, Gangapur Maharashtra Vadgaon Aurangabad Pandharpur Pandharpur Aurangabad Gnagapur Shireshaigaon Khultabad Sulibhanjan Yavatmal Maregaon Maregaon Narasala 48 Status of NREGA Implementation Partner Organisations Involved in the Study PACS Communication agencies Maharashtra : Sampark, Mumbai Jharkhand : Manthan Yuva Sansthan, Ranchi Bihar : Communicators for Development, Patna Madhya Pradesh/Chhattisgarh : Write Solutions, Bhopal Organisations which collected data Uttar Pradesh: a. Sahbhagi Sikshan Kendra, Lucknow b. UPVAN, Lucknow c. FORRAD, New Delhi d. NYPT India, New Delhi e. Sarvodaya Ashram, Hardoi. f. Akhil Bhartiya Samaj Seva Sansthan , Chitrakoot Madhya Pradesh: 1. Samarthan- Centre For Development & Support, Bhopal 2. Grameen Vikas Mandal, Balaghat Bihar: 1. Binoba Arogya Awam Lok Shikshan Kendra, Nalanda 2. Ekta Parishad, Bihar/Pragati Gramin Vikas Samiti (PGVS), Muzaffarpur 3. Gramin Ewam Nagar Vikas Parishad, Patna 4. Mahila Sewak Samaj, Sheikhpura Chattisgarh: 1. Samarthan- Centre For Development & Support, Bhopal 2. Jagriti Sewa Sansthan, Rajnandgaon Maharashtra: 1. Grass Roots Action For Social Participation (GRASP), Aurangabad 2. Social Institute Programme for Rural Area (SIPRA), Nanded 3. Gramin Samasya Mukti Trust, Yavatmal Jharkhand: 1. Programme For Rural Actions & Youths Association For Social Service (PRAYAS), Hazaribag 2. 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