The central authorities’s strategy to funds underneath the Nationwide Rural Employment Assure Act (NREGA) is a ridiculous joke performed on employees who wait for his or her hard-earned cash for a very long time. Many individuals don’t get their fee in any respect resulting from varied native malpractices.

The advanced, centralized fee system has resulted in a endless nightmare for NREGA employees who work onerous for low wages. it’s recognized to all that the NREGA wages don’t even match the respective agricultural minimal wages of the state And that continues to be ridiculously low, regardless of employees lengthy demanding respectable wages.

Allow us to perceive how the centralized NREGA fee system and the Official Administration Data System (MIS) collectively create an enormous confusion within the monitoring of funds.

The NREGA fee system has been divided by the Heart into two phases; The fee technology part on the native stage is outlined as ‘Part One’ and the discharge of fee to the checking account of the employee by the Central Authorities is termed as ‘Part Two’.

Part one includes varied processes on the native stage and is the duty of the native administration. The crammed ‘Muster Roll’ (Each day Attendance Sheet of the employees) must be entered within the MIS and tallied within the type of “Pay Listing” (Labour-wise Wage Fee Data). A number of such pay lists are mixed into completely different Fund Switch Orders (FTOs) to course of funds in several batches.

Thereafter, the FTO must be digitally signed by the licensed signatories. In many of the states, the Panchayat Secretary is the primary signatory whereas the Block Improvement Officer is the second. Nonetheless, many states have licensed Panchayat chiefs (Mukhiya or Sarpanch) as second signatories, which implies they’ve the authority to approve funds.

As soon as the FTO is digitally signed by the 2 licensed signatories, part one of many fee processing system ends and part two begins. In part two, the central authorities is required to course of the fund switch order on to the employees’ account by means of the identical financial institution utilizing the Nationwide Digital Finance Administration System (NEFMS).

This complete course of must be accomplished inside 15 days from the tip date of muster roll and as per legislation, the employee ought to get their fee inside these 15 days.

The Heart has arrange mechanisms of their MIS to point out that many of the funds are ,generated” inside 15 days. This virtually signifies that the method of part one is being accomplished inside 15 days. Nonetheless, as per the Act, the complete fee course of have to be accomplished inside 15 days. This can be a intelligent ploy to mislead the residents and create an phantasm of well timed fee; clear violation of the Act.

Whereas funds are repeatedly delayed – even central delays are very frequent – MIS will proceed to point out that the majority funds are generated inside 15 days. For instance, as of September 1, 40% of the funds for the month of August are pending with the central authorities, as Report No. R.8.8.1 in official web site, The quantity of those funds is roughly Rs. 2,593 crore wages. Nonetheless, on the identical web site, This reveals that 99% of the funds have been made on time.

The report displaying 40% (value Rs 2593 crore) of August fee is pending until September 1.

One would naturally ask, what’s the share of delay for the part two fee cycle? That is the incorrect query to ask. As per the Act, one ought to be involved about guaranteeing fee to the employees inside 15 days from the cut-off date of muster roll and never fall into the lure of separate calculation of part one and part two.

As per the terminology coined by the federal government, we should always test whether or not the part two of the fee cycle is accomplished inside 15 days from the cut-off date of muster roll. We’ve got no mechanism to trace this with experiences publicly obtainable on the web site. As an alternative, the ministry has give you a report known as ‘stage to monitoring’‘ which reveals the quantum of funds pending from the central authorities at any level.

Nonetheless, as soon as the funds are cleared by the federal government, subsequently, the pending transactions and quantities are diminished within the report. Subsequently, it’s certainly not a measure of the delay of Part Two and doesn’t inform us whether or not the fee is being credited to the employee’s financial institution accounts inside the stipulated time-frame.

The second part monitoring report surfaced on the web site when, in 2018, the Supreme Courtroom directed the central authorities to point out the total extent of delay in fee on the NREGA web site and pay compensation to employees accordingly.

Nonetheless, the present experiences on the web site don’t mirror the full variety of transactions delayed past 15 days or the full quantity of funds concerned in such delays. That is clearly a contempt of courtroom order.

Whereas the federal government ought to act transparently to scale back delays in funds and create techniques to point out the precise extent of present delays, it has chosen unfair means by means of extremely subtle MIS to mislead folks. Staff, most of whom do not need entry to smartphones, web or web site, it’s by no means clear what’s the purpose for such lengthy delay and the place the fee is getting caught.

Usually, once they ask a frontline officer or office supervisors (generally often known as ‘friends’), the widespread response they get is, “have not missed but“(MIS is just not accomplished but). Therefore, the time period MIS is nearly synonymous with delayed fee to employees.

So, does not the central authorities even calculate the delay restrict? Earlier than the Supreme Courtroom in 2018 The central authorities had stated That solely 17% of funds have been made in 2016-17 and 43% in 2017-18 have been paid on time (ie inside 15 days), which implies they hold monitor of them however intentionally don’t put the report within the public area.

The Centre’s declare of fixing all fee associated points by means of the Aadhaar-based system is a blatant lie. Opposite to the declare of the Central Authorities, Introduction of Aadhaar in NREGA fee system has proved to be dangerous and has created many challenges in guaranteeing well timed fee to employees.

The introduction of Aadhaar within the NREGA fee system has created main points, with Aadhaar-bank linkage errors resulting in funds being wrongly credited to another person’s (apart from the employee) checking account and numerous transactions being rejected. , which present “passive base”. as error. That is normally an incident the place Aadhaar-based fee is initiated, however for some purpose, the financial institution has de-linked Aadhaar with the employee’s checking account.

Girls laborers underneath the Nationwide Rural Employment Assure Act (NREGA) on the outskirts of Ajmer, Rajasthan. Supply: PTI

As well as, repeated Aadhaar-based exclusions have been reported from a number of states. Many real job playing cards/employee names have been eliminated in lots of states resulting from non-availability of Aadhaar.

One who carefully observes NREGA in villages will admit that the problems Variety of NREGA funds not restricted to the case of Aadhaar linkage, That is carefully associated to the standard of native implementation.

For instance, many employees throughout the nation don’t even use their very own job playing cards whereas working. They work on one other’s job card and part of the complete wage is paid in money by the job card holder. Usually, influential native folks, with the total help of the administration, use their job playing cards to earn cash on this manner. As well as, employees usually begin working on the office, solely to appreciate after a number of days that their identify doesn’t seem within the e-muster roll. They’re by no means paid for these working days.

Round 70% of the funds allotted by the Heart this yr have been exhausted (as of August 31) and funds have been delayed by a few month at the least twice inside the first 5 months of the yr. As talked about earlier, many of the August funds have been withheld until August 31. In such circumstances, within the absence of satisfactory allocation and well timed launch of funds, the on-ground implementation of NREGA can be negatively impacted and can decelerate considerably.

On high of all this, The federal government has just lately launched caste based mostly fee processing system During which the FTO can be segregated into three completely different caste classes (SC, ST and others) and processed individually. This association is just not solely pointless however may even result in issues and delays. The federal government ought to solely deal with making well timed funds to all those that have labored underneath this system and mustn’t experiment with their hard-earned cash.

The central authorities ought to give you a easy, decentralized mechanism during which gram panchayats can have a key function in approving and processing funds. It is going to promote higher accountability in NREGA processes and likewise empower native governing establishments.

Debmalya Nandi is related to NREGA Sangharsh Morcha and has labored in tribal areas of Jharkhand and Odisha for the final 12 years.

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