What is MGNREGA or NREGA?
The full form of NREGA is National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005. After the act was passed, at the time of its launch, it was renamed as MGNREGA full form of which is Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The scheme was introduced as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work” in rural areas of India. The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.
What is the Functional Area of MGNREGA?
NREGA is exclusively functional in the rural areas of India. Under existing provisions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, every rural household with family members who have volunteered to do unskilled labour will be provided at least 100 days of paid work by the government. The work provided by these rural workers would be utilised for the creation of various long term fixed assets such as wells, ponds, roads and canals in rural India. Hence, the key functional area of NREGA is rural India with a focus on using the untapped or under-utilised rural workforce of the country.
Key Objectives of MGNREGA
MGNREGA which has been hailed as the world’s largest and most ambitious social project was designed with the following key objectives in mind:
• Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.
• Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening livelihood base of rural poor.
• Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals
• Reduce urban migration from rural areas
• Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour
Eligibility for NREGA Scheme
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is applicable to rural areas of all states and is administered by the central government. The following are the eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits under NREGA scheme:
• Must be Citizen of India to seek NREGA benefits
• Job seeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application
• NREGA applicant must be part of a local household (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat)
• Applicant must volunteer for unskilled labour
The criteria for MGNREGA eligibility has been kept simple so that a large number of rural applicants can benefit from the scheme as long as they are adults and reside in the local area.
What is NREGA Job Card?
NREGA Job Card or NREGA JC in short is the primary document which identifies an individual who is registered with the local Gram Panchayat under this scheme. Being an identity card cum job card it contains details of the NREGA-registered individual (such as name, NREGA registration number, details of applicants in the household, etc.) and also serves as documentary proof of the worker’s entitlements. A NREGA job card allows individuals in rural households to apply for paid work with the Gram Panchayat in their local area, ensures transparency of processes and also protects workers from possible fraud. The NREGA JC can also be used to complete KYC at bank and post offices for opening bank accounts.
How to Apply for MGNREGA Job Card
A NREGA Job Card application form may be availed from the local Gram Panchayat or the application may be made on plain paper. Currently, the MGNREGA job card application process is conducted completely offline primarily because of the low internet penetration in rural India. However, the Official NREGA website (www.nrega.nic.in) does give individuals the option to download NREGA Job Card Application Form for free. Key fields in the NREGA form that must also be included when the application is made using plain paper are:
• Photograph of applicant(s)
• Name, Age and Gender of all NREGA Job Card Applicants from the household
• Name of Village
• Name of Gram Panchayat
• Name of Block
• Details of whether the applicant(s) is/are beneficiaries of SC/ST/IAY/LR
• Specimen Signature/Thumb impression of applicants
Additionally, proof documents such a Ration card, Voter ID Card, Aadhaar, PAN need to be submitted as well.
Once applicable documents have been submitted, a NREGA job card will be provided to the applicant(s) within 15 days of submission.
NREGA Job Card Details and Features
Key details included in the NREGA Job Card include the following:
• Details of all MGNREGA applicants in the Household such as name, father’s name, age, gender, Bank Account number/Post Office Bank Account number, address, etc.
• Photograph of NREGA job card holder
• Job/Employment Record
• Details of Employment provided (including dates of employment)
• Unemployment allowance pay out details (payable in case minimum guaranteed employment is not provided)
Unemployment allowance under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is payable in case an applicant is not provided employment under NREGA within 15 days of making an application seeking employment.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act Payment Process
After calculation of wages based on the work provided, The primary payment process in case of NREGA is transfer of wages directly to the bank account of the Job Card holder. The bank/post office account for such transfers is the same as the one mentioned on the job card by the
NREGA Payment Process. In case a MGNREGA applicant does not have a bank account, he/she can open a bank account using the NREGA Job Card as KYC documentary proof.
In a few cases, NREGA payments may be made out in cash by the applicable Gram Panchayat. This may happen due to weak penetration of post offices and banks in the area where MGNREGA payment is to be made. However cash based NREGA payment process is allowed only with prior knowledge and approval from the Ministry and State Governments respectively. It is important to note that MGNREGA wages are the same irrespective of the gender of the person receiving the payment.
How to Check NREGA Account Balance?
At present there is no way to check the NREGA Account Balance online however, the NREGA Job Card does contain some of the details that a subscriber can use to check their NREGA pay out for a specific period of time. The job card contains details of the number of days the worker was employed and there is a fixed wage for each day of work that has been completed and updated on the MGNREGA job card. The rate of daily wage varies from one state to another and is liable to change periodically. Using the data from the NREGA daily wage by State List, it is possible to check NREGA account balance with respect to future pay outs.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act App
The MGNREGA App allows registered users to check details of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in their local area i.e. Gram Panchayat. The following is the state-wise view of key NREGA information provided by the NREGA app.
Information available via the MGNREGA app include state wise list of work details for each Gram Panchayat in India, the total pay-out made to each Gram Panchayat by the government, details of work carried out under MGNREGA scheme, details of new schemes and much more. Based on these details, users of the app can determine the work available to them in their local Gram Panchayat area. Download the NREGA App for Android
Benefits of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
As one of the government’s flagship development schemes, implementation of MGNREGA offers a range of benefits especially in underdeveloped rural India. The key benefits of MGNREGA are as follows:
• Providing paid guaranteed employment in rural areas
• Increased spending power in villages to drive India’s consumption growth
• Greater social inclusion for those residing in rural India
• Improvements and creation of infrastructure in Indian villages
• Better utilisation of under-utilised and unutilised labour resources
• Enhancing the power of Gram Panchayats
• Better utilisation of naturally occurring land and water resources in rural areas