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NREGA: All you wanted to know

[] Here are the key facts about India’s employment guarantee scheme that promises employment to the country’s unskilled rural workforce.

What is NREGA?

The government of India passed the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, or NREGA, in September 2005. The government’s flagship rural employment scheme – National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) – provides the guarantee of, at least, 100 days of work in a financial year to the unskilled rural workforce in India. For drought/natural calamity-notified areas, there is the provision for additional 50 days of unskilled wage employment in a financial year.

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While the law was earlier named NREGA, the name was changed to MGNREGA after an amendment to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, on October 2, 2009.

The Union Ministry of Rural Development monitors the implementation of the MGNREGA, along with state governments.

NREGA: Overview

Name of the scheme NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme)
Applicable law NREGA or MGNREGA
Name changed to MGNREGA October 2, 2009
Official website
  • Providing at least 100 days of unskilled manual work as guaranteed employment in a financial year to every household in rural areas.
  • Strengthening the livelihood base of the poor.
  • Ensuring social inclusion.
  • Strengthening Panchayati Raj institutions.
Passed by Parliament August 23, 2005
Came into force September 7, 2006
Implementing authority Union Ministry of Rural Development and state governments
Coverage All rural areas in India

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NREGA objective

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The objective of the scheme is to provide a supplementary source of living to unskilled and semi-skilled adult members of rural households in India, especially the land-less workforce below the poverty line.

Difference between NREGA and NREGS

Is the law governing NREGS Scheme launched under the NREGA law
Governed by the centre To be governed under the central law by state governments
Can be amended by the central government Can be amended by state governments
Notified on September 7, 2005 States notified NREGS rules within a year after September 7, 2005
Prescribes rules Prescribes implementation

NREGA registration and NREGA job card

To get work under the scheme, all adult members of a family need to approach the gram panchayat and submit their details for NREGA registration. After the registration, NREGA job cards are issued to eligible workers. NREGA job cards are linked with the card holder’s Aadhaar and bank account.

A registered NREGA worker can apply for at least 14 days of continuous work by approaching the gram panchayat. The gram panchayat will help the NREGA cardholder get work within a five-kilometre radius of his address. In case the NREGA worker has to travel more than five kms for work, he will be eligible for an extra payment.

[] All about the NREGA job card list

Rights of NREGA cardholders

  • Application for registration.
  • Obtaining a job card.
  • Obtaining a dated receipt for the application for work.
  • Getting work within 15 days’ of applying or from the date when work is sought, if the application has been made in advance, whichever is later.
  • Choice of duration and time of work.
  • Facilities of drinking water, crèche, first aid, etc., at the worksite.
  • 10% extra wage if employment is beyond a five-km radius.
  • Check their muster rolls and get all the information regarding their employment.
  • Weekly payment, maximum within a fortnight of the date on which the work was completed.
  • Unemployment allowance if employment is not given within 15 days of submitting the application.
  • Compensation for delay in payment of wages, at the rate of 0.05% of the unpaid wages per day beyond the 16th day of closure of muster roll.
  • Medical treatment for injury in the course of employment, including hospitalisation cost and ex-gratia payment in case of death or disability.

Type of works under NREGA

  • Water harvesting and conservation structures like earthen dams, stop dams and check dams or underground dykes.
  • Watershed management works such as contour trenches or bunds, terracing, boulder checks, gabion structures and spring shed development.
  • Micro and minor irrigation works.
  • Creation, maintenance and renovation of drains and irrigation canals.
  • Renovation of traditional water bodies.
  • Afforestation, tree plantation and horticulture.
  • Land development works on common land.
  • Improving productivity of lands of households.
  • Improving livelihoods through horticulture, plantation, farm forestry and sericulture.
  • Development of waste lands / fallow lands of households.
  • Infrastructure for the promotion of livestock, such as poultry shelters, goat shelters, piggery shelters, cattle shelters and fodder troughs for cattle.
  • Creating infrastructure for the promotion of fisheries, such as fish drying yards and storage facilities and promotion of fisheries in seasonal water bodies.
  • Work for promoting agricultural productivity by creating durable infrastructure required for bio-fertilisers and post-harvest facilities, including pucca storage facilities for agricultural produce.
  • Common work sheds for livelihood activities of self-help groups.
  • Rural sanitation-related works, such as individual household latrines, school toilet units and anganwadi toilets.
  • Construction of all-weather rural roads.
  • Construction of play fields.
  • Works towards improving disaster preparedness, such as restoration of roads or other essential public infrastructure, flood control and protection works, deepening and repairing of flood channels, providing drainage in water-logged areas, chaur renovation and construction of stormwater drains for coastal protection.
  • Construction of buildings for gram panchayats, women self-help groups, cyclone shelters, anganwadi centres, village haats and crematoria.
  • Construction of structures for storage of foodgrains.
  • Production of building construction materials.
  • Maintenance of rural public assets.
  • Any other work notified by the centre.

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NREGA payment

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NREGA payment is made in the bank account or post office account of an NREGA card holder. However, the payment can also be made in cash, in areas where banking infrastructure is poor.

NREGA wage rate

The centre, in March 2022, notified the new NREGA wage rates for FY 2022-23. The new wage rate came into effect on April 1, 2022. The hike in rates across states was in the range of 1.77% to 7%. The highest rate hike was announced for Goa where daily wages were revised to Rs 315 per day in 2022-23 as against Rs 294 per day in 2021-22. The lowest increase of 1.77% was in Meghalaya. The new NREGA wage was fixed at Rs 230 per day.

State NREGA wages in 2021-22 (Rs) NREGA wages in 2022-23 (Rs) Absolute change (Rs)
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 294 308 14
Andhra Pradesh 245 257 12
Assam 224 229 5
Arunachal Pradesh 212 216 4
Bihar 198 210 12
Chhattisgarh 193 204 11
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 269 278 9
Daman and Diu 269 278 9
Goa 294 315 21
Gujarat 229 230 10
Haryana 315 331 16
Himachal Pradesh 254 266 12
J&K 214 227 13
Jharkhand 198 210 12
Karnataka 289 311 20
Kerala 291 311 20
Lakshadweep 266 284 18
Madhya Pradesh 193 204 11
Maharashtra 284 256 8
Manipur 291 291 No change
Meghalaya 226 230 4
Mizoram 233 233 No change
Nagaland 212 216 4
Odisha 215 222 7
Puducherry 273 281 8
Punjab 269 282 13
Rajasthan 221 231 10
Sikkim 212 222 10
Tamil Nadu 273 281 8
Telangana 245 257 12
Tripura 212 212 No change
Uttar Pradesh 204 213 9
Uttarakhand 204 213 9
West Bengal 213 223 10

Compensation for delay in NREGA payment

Under NREGS, wages have to be paid weekly and not later than a fortnight from the date on which the work was completed. MGNREGA workers are entitled to receive compensation at a rate of 0.05% of the unpaid wages per day, for the duration of the delay beyond the 16th day of the closure of the work.

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When was the NREGA law passed by Parliament?

The Indian parliament passed the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) on August 23, 2005.

When was NREGA notified?

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was notified through the Gazette of India (Extraordinary) Notification on September 7, 2005. It came into effect on February 2, 2006, in 200 backward districts.

What is a household under NREGA?

Under NREGA, a household refers to members of a family who are related to each other by blood, marriage or adoption and are residing together and share meals or hold a common ration card.

Who fixes the NREGA rate list?

The central government fixes state-wise wage rates for NREGA workers, under Sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the MGNREGA, 2005. The rate for MGNREGA wages are fixed, according to the changes in the Consumer Price Index-Agriculture Labour. This index reflects the increase in inflation in rural areas.

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Category: Must Knows

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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