NREGS Act is a time bound employment guarantee scheme whereby adult members of rural household willing to do public related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage are provided a legal guarantee for 100 days of employment for each financial year. The right based and demand driven approach with its legal framework, has marked a paradigm shift in the mode wage employment programme was pursued in India and has been contributing towards significant reform in such programmes. Many studies indicate that giving preference to employment creation over the creation of durable productive assets under NREGS seems to have resulted in poor quality works, increasing numbers of incomplete projects and very low levels of maintenance.
The program is a joint conceptualization & effort of United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and MoRD, Govt. of India to monitor & streamline convergence between NREGS & ongoing programs of other departments/ministries for creation of durable assets, value addition and strengthening of livelihood resource base of the rural poor. We were offered the opportunity to contribute to their endeavor of “Monitoring & streamlining convergence between NREGS and ongoing schemes of other department ministries” on behalf of NREGS Technical Secretariat (Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India) in two district i.e Dewas & Mandla in Madhya Pradesh and Gumla in Jharkhand. Key recommendations include strengthening of Gram Sabha for effective decision making, right composition of village monitoring committee, identification and involvement of user groups, adoption of appropriate designs for construction of check dams and other water harvesting structures, incorporation of agricultural practices in land development, geographical condition based wage rate (terrain, lithology), flexibility in working days, smaller structures for soil and water conservation etc. The key sectors having received support include development of water resources, rural connectivity, agricultural, TSC & forestry & plantation programs.