Taking it Beyond Unskilled Work

MGNREGS is a demand-driven employment guarantee scheme which guarantees at least 100 days of paid employment (in the form of unskilled manual work) in a financial year to every rural household. The scheme is premised on the need to create employment and generate productive assets in rural areas thereby supporting rural livelihoods and generating beneficial assets for the overall improvement of lives.
In the past few years, new additions to the MGNREGS have improved the implementation and scope of the scheme beyond the basic provision of guaranteed employment. The government introduced GIS-based Planning of Gram Panchayats as an integrated and comprehensive planning process based on ridge-to-valley concepts for watershed development.
To ensure timely and hassle-free disbursement of payments under the scheme, the government introduced the National Electronic Fund Management System for direct benefit transfer. By December 2022, 99 per cent of MGNREGS wage earners received their pay directly in their bank or post office accounts, moving the scheme’s implementation towards openness and more transparency. Steps taken in the direction of making MGNREGS more effective in uplifting rural lives include SECURE to digitise the creation and approval of estimates for MGNREGS projects, Geo-MGNREGA to geo-tag all projects implemented under MGNREGS, and the launch of UNNATI to upgrade the skill base of MGNREGS workers.
However, measures to improve the functioning and impact of MGNREGS are not commensurate with wage hikes or budgetary allocations for the scheme.

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