part of the MNREGA next level implementation, the Government of India has already been placing a strong
focus on the use of information communication technology (ICT) to promote
timely wage payments and instill transparency at every level. At present there
are 12 crore Job Cards and 9 crore Muster Rolls uploaded on the Management
Information System (MIS); all MIS information is available in public domain.
For FY 2011-2012, more than 90% of the total expenditure is available on MIS
(including details of beneficiaries, wage payments, person days generates etc.)
ICT-based end-to-end solutions are also being piloted for capturing
attendance, preparing electronic Muster Rolls (e-muster rolls), disbursing wage
payments, etc. This will also enable real time data capture on the MIS and
provide information at the panchayat,
block, district and state levels. The government is also working with the
States to move towards an Electronic Fund Management System (e-FMS) that will
ensure timely availability and transparent usage of MNREGA funds at all levels.
Integration of MNREGA with UID through Aadhar is also being piloted in 51 districts across India[i].
Aadhar has the potential to institute
efficiency and reduce leakages across the MNREGA life cycle including,
capturing of real time attendance at work sites (which would lead to reduction
in the number of ghost workers), reducing delay in wage payment, creating
greater transparency and accountability in payments in general, etc. The
Ministry has commissioned a study to analyse challenges, feasibility for scale
up, where it is already being implemented.
Aadhaar in fact, has the
potential to be superior to other biometric solutions for four reasons. First,
it allows for interoperability among banks and Business Correspondents (BC),
i.e., the same Aadhaar biometrics can
be used by any bank or BC that the worker may use. Second, it allows for
uniformity of biometric standards across the country and across applications.
Third, it is a single biometric service available across all government schemes
and beyond, vitiating the need to do the biometric enrolment separately for
different programmes. Fourth, Aadhaar
is a mobile identity that travels with the resident even when he/ she moves or
Anderson, S., Francois, P. and Kotwal, A.
(2012), “One Kind of Democracy”, UBC Mimeo.
Technology can play a big role. MNREGA
website gives a glimpse of that. There are two ways in which this is possible.
First, IT can be used for increasing transparency. Second, IT can speed up the
whole process and reduce the delays in implementation and wage payments.
However, a number of
improvements are warranted if
‘transparency’ and ‘speeding up the whole process’ are the goals. For greater
transparency, the MNREGA website needs to be made more user friendly so that
the NGOs or other stakeholders can download the data they require and use it to
improve accountability. Second, an appropriate use of IT can bring about
greater efficiency in all phases of implementation. The repetitive tasks can be
made less cumbersome using IT; the measurements of the work performed by a team
of workers (e.g. how much soil has been dug out) can be done by barefoot
engineers with the help of better technology, thus obviating the need for
engineers to visit the site every week.
Once these measurement records are available regularly and timely then using
the MB software can generate the Payment Sheet with speed and accuracy and this
can then be shared with banks to make payments. Moreover, using IT
automatically puts all data in public domain and time stamp of each task can
provide the valuable information to the administration about the bottlenecks in
the implementation cycle.
Delayed wage payment to the
poor labourers is the most worrisome aspect of MNREGA implementation The delay
occurs in every stage of the project: the evaluation of work done by the
labourers; preparing payment sheet; depositing payments into the accounts of
labourers through a post office or a bank. Of these, the first three reasons
can be addressed effectively using IT, as explained in earlier paragraph. To
ensure that the wages do reach the intended recipients, UID linked bank
accounts can potentially do the trick. The Banking Correspondent model needs
some kind of identification of the account holder and creating their biometrics
requires additional investment for the Banks. Banks are reluctant to put in
this kind of investment since these no-frill accounts of rural labourers’
funds’ float in and out of their account too fast for the banks to make any
profit. Here the UID can provide the identification protocol and induce the
banks to participate. Hence this route becomes beneficial and labourers can get
bank accounts and banking services in the village with Banking Correspondent
There has been mixed experience. There are examples of both creation of good assets and creation of assets of questionable quality. We need to understand causes that are leading to such issues. The reason for creation of assets of questionable quality may lie both in the design of MGNREGA program and its execution. Majority of works are earth related which has short durability and are difficult to monitor. Further, more often than not, the emphasis to build assets of good quality has been put on the back burner by the implementation and monitoring agencies on the pretext that objective of MGNREGA is to provide employment. Poor planning, corruption, lack of monitoring and attempts to befit the scheme in labour/material ratio of 60:40 are major practical causes. Solutions can be on following fronts:1. Making it mandatory to monitor earth related works within six months of its execution.2. Making it mandatory to upload pictures of completed assets.3. Regularly monitor work completion rate, and works running behind schedule. The scheme left incomplete must be explained and suitably entered in MIS. There must be threshold level of work completion below which fund must not be released.4. Assets created under MGNREGA to be transferred to line departments for convergence. For example, boundaries of farm ponds created under MGNREGA can be taken up for forestry by forest department; brick swelling roads can be upgraded to PCC roads. List of completed assets since inception as reflected in MIS can be very useful for this purpose.5. There should be exercise done at least half yearly to check the maintenance status of completed assets.
After reading your ideas, I have still the question left answered that is there any correlation between the poverty alleviation in the states and implementation of the MGNREGA. The report to people only talks about the fact that it has contributed in the reduction in rural poverty. But this is the case for all the states ? I find no correlation in the money spent and % age of pverty reduction. Please enlighten me.