Demand up but NREGS work generation is at 50%: Audit | India News

NEW DELHI: A central audit has found it intriguing that the work generated under MGNREGS remains half of the entitled 100 days per household annually despite a noticeable higher demand in states, urging the Centre to order a study on the mismatch.
Crucially, the audit has termed the District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (Disha), which oversees the implementation of central schemes in every district, unwieldy and virtually nonfunctional. Stopping just short of calling for its disbanding, the audit has urged the Centre to review the body.
For years, District Vigilance and Monitoring Committees had the oversight mandate of a handful of schemes run by the rural development ministry but in 2016, they were superseded by Disha which was charged with monitoring 41 central schemes ranging from infrastructure and power, education and food security to rural development. As per the Common Review Mission-2019, commissioned by the RD ministry, work given under MGNREGS is much less than the demand among people. In 2019, the average work per household was 48 days.
It was a bit higher at 50 days in 2018 and lower at 45 days in 2017. This is around half the entitled 100 days a year for every household. It was 45 days in 2013. Given that the scheme is demand-driven without being fettered by budgetary concerns, the lower allocation of work has generally been attributed to less need for distress labour among the rural poor.
But the CRM audit has given this entrenched belief a twist, even suggesting an oblique link between demandsupply work mismatch and the fact that the “MGNREGS wage rates in the states are less than corresponding minimum wages of states”. It says: “A study may be undertaken for reviewing the wage rate under MGNREGS and the reasons why number of days of work provided per household is less than half of the entitlement despite the fact that in several places visited by CRM, the demand for more work was articulated.”
Interestingly, even in the high-demand season of the pandemic, as noted by TOI on June 3, the work generated remained much lower than the massive turnout of households under the job scheme.
In the first 45 days after MGNREGS resumed following the lockdown, the average work per household was only 17 person days. About Disha, the CRM has noted it has not made any significant impact, riddled as it is by irregular meetings, poor processes and lack of action on its recommendations. “In one UP district, its agenda ran into 500 pages, making it very difficult for any purposive monitoring,” it said.

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