What do you understand by NREGS? What are its main features?
With a view to augment the meagre income sources of the rural households in the country and also to provide assured employment for some part of the year to every needy rural household, the government of India came out with a very novel scheme a couple of years ago, called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). Conceptually, this Scheme aimed at providing assured employment for at least 100 days to every rural household, whose members were willing to do the work of manual labour within their own Panchayat areas. With a view to ensure that this guarantee scheme actually guaranteed the said number of assured employment to the rural families, the government introduced this scheme along with a central legislation called ‘National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’ (NREGA).
Primarily aimed at reducing the incidence of poverty by supplementing the incomes of the rural and poor households by providing at least 100 days employment, the NREGS is the first scheme of its kind to be implemented with the support of law of the land. Main features of the scheme are: a person or his household is required to be registered with the Block/Panchayat Development Officer of his area, who upon the registration would issue a NREGS Card to the said household. After having registered, the said person or the household must be offered at least 100 days manual work within their own Panchayat area, for which he or other members of his family would get wages as per the minimum wages fixed by the government from time to time.
The Panchayats are required to choose a few works out of an array of permissible works under the Scheme. The Panchayats are further required to execute those works which have at least 60 per cent labour component, so that maximum number of people are provided with employment. It is also provided in the NREGA that in case after registration, someone is not invited to work on any of the works being executed in his Panchayat area, the said person or the household is entitled to get the wages for 100 days even without working.
NREGS is a landmark scheme of the government of India. More than just the rural employment generation, it gives a clear signal that the government is committed to the resolve of assisting the people in the rural areas to overcome the handicap of poverty. At the same time, the rural areas would get some assets created that would result in improvement of the quality of life in villages.