The Centre has drastically reduced the allocation of funds to the states under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), after reports of poor implementation and several complaints on this. Of the states, the maximum number of complaints on the poor implementation of NREGA has come from Bihar. According to figures provided by the Union Ministry of Rural Development under the RTI Act, while the Centre released Rs 3,576,895.33 lakh in 2010-11, this amount came down to Rs 2,461,849.554 lakh in 2015-16, thus a funds slash of about 30% took place in the last five years.
Tamil Nadu received the maximum allocation of Rs 310,057 lakh in 2015-16; whereas this amount was Rs 234,789 lakh for united Andhra Pradesh; Rs 207,299 lakh for Uttar Pradesh, Rs 102,412 lakh for Bihar. The money released to the states under the NREGA was slashed even during the UPA II government. The total funds allocation was Rs 3,576,895 lakh in 2010-11, Rs 2,918,976 lakh in 2011-12, Rs 3,000,995 lakh in 2012-13, Rs 3,274,368 lakh in 2013-14, Rs 3,247,686 lakh in 2014-15 and Rs 2,461,849 lakh in 2015-16.
The RTI reply, sent to activist Gopal Prasad, also reflects the poor implementation of the Act in Bihar. According to the reply, the maximum number of complaints, 249, regarding the implementation of NREGA, came from Bihar. As per the Act, the states are responsible for the implementation of NREGA. The Act has laid down a detailed procedure for the resolution of complaints received under NREGA.
70 complaints have come from Chhattisgarh, 20 from West Bengal, 15 from Maharashtra, and zero from Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Gopal Prasad had asked for information on all the states, but got a reply on six states.
The poor implementation of NREGA has been a cause for concern over the years. There has been a gradual decrease in the completion rate of works. As per the figures of the Ministry of Rural Development, the completion rate was 96.6% in 2009-10, 92.2% in 2010-11, 86.8% in 2011-12, 76.6% in 2012-13, 62.9% in 2013-14 and 44.5% in 2014-15.
Sources said because of the poor implementation of NREGA in Bihar in particular, a large number of villagers are being forced to leave the state to other places like Punjab and Delhi in search of livelihood. However, the Bihar government has not taken effective steps to check this trend.
The Ministry of Rural Development has issued a directive to all the states to take steps to improve the implementation and outreach of NREGA. In a letter sent last month, the ministry listed 10 key issues pertaining to the implementation of the scheme, based on evaluations conducted by the ministry and other independent agencies.
NREGA was introduced in 2006 with promises of 100 days’ of employment every year to each rural household. The NDA government is trying to plug the leaks in the scheme’s implementation.