The success of MGNREGA depends on the proper flow of funds in the states. Last year, the funds dried up on three occasions, and once again in the first six months of this year. Lack of “mother sanctions” also hampers work. The government’s claim of “record allocation” does not withstand scrutiny in real terms. The current budget contains pending liabilities from last year, and the fund allocation is insufficient to ensure proper implementation on the ground.
The Congress party has made promises to bring down fuel prices and to eliminate poverty by 2030. They have also promised to create 22 lakh government jobs by 2020, introduce a law against hate crimes, scrap the sedition law, and protect AMU’s minority status. Despite these promises, the opposition has attacked the Prime Minister for not delivering on MGNREGA. The party will campaign in the state to ensure that MGNREGA works effectively and does not fail the people.
MGNREGA was implemented to improve livelihood security in rural areas. The program offers rural residents 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in one year. As long as they can find work within 5 kilometers of their homes, the income from this employment is guaranteed. If they are unable to find work within fifteen days, they can apply for an unemployment allowance. However, this program is not without flaws. The government is facing a funding gap, and gram panchayats lack the autonomy to implement it.
The provision of water has been a key element in improving food and agricultural security in rural areas. Several studies have shown that the creation of water-related assets under MGNREGA has increased the number of days of water available for irrigation, which has improved cropping patterns. This has also increased the area under cultivation. And, of course, the provision of water has also been essential to the food security and nutrition of rural India.
MGNREGA participants’ experiences with the programme may differ from that of labourers. In Odisha, for example, the MGNREGA wage is equivalent to or higher than the private market wage. In other regions, such as Kerala, men report receiving fewer days of work under MGNREGA than women. Nevertheless, the participants reported that they would prefer to work under the MGNREGA programme if it meant getting more money.