To separately address the major issues associated with NREGA, the Centre has constituted six working groups to ensure better implementation of the flagship programme nationwide.
These working groups were formed by the Ministry of Rural Development to address issues like planning and execution of schemes, capacity building of workers and functionaries, transparency and accountability among others, a ministry official said.
The Centre had taken a decision to constitute these working groups during 11th Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC) meeting, held recently.
Explaining the role of the working groups, a government official said: a seven member ‘Working Group on Planning and Execution’ (WGPE), to be headed by CEGC member Ranga Rao, would address issues relating to preparation and approvals of shelf of projects as per the provisions of NREGA and formulation and approval of the labour budget under the Act.
It will also look into the development of perspective plans and the annual plan, choice of works for sustainable and durable assets within permissible list, expansion of scope of works, convergence guidelines and processes and developing guidelines for innovations.
The WGPE will address issues relating to detailed estimates of works, timely opening of works, selection of implementing agencies for selected projects, role of line departments, material procurement, work-site management and facilities, inspection and monitoring of works and operational modalities of convergence projects.
A seven member ‘Working Group on Capacity Building’ (WGCB), to be headed by CEGC member Ashwini Kumar, will look into the empowerment of NREGA workers “so that they assert and realise their rights”, a ministry official said.
It will also suggest measures for strengthening of community participation in administrative systems at all levels and strengthening of research and evaluation systems.
A nine-member ‘Working Group on Transparency and Accountability’ (WGTA), to be headed by CEGC member and rights activist Aruna Roy, will take up the issues associated with the enforcement of rights and entitlements of NREGA workers and suggest suitable measures.
This group will look into the issues relating to the application process for issuing of job cards, its authenticity and if it was updated, timely work allocation to the beneficiaries, and payment of unemployment allowance.
WGTA will also address all issues relating to internal and external monitoring and verification systems prescribed by the ministry.
A seven-member ‘Working Group on Specific Needs of Specific Category of Workers’, to be headed by non-official member of CEGC Madhusudan Mistry, would look into the issues of gender equity, needs of disabled persons, needs of old persons, special benefits to SC, ST and families in left wing extremist areas and drought affected areas.
‘Working Group on Works to be taken up on individual land’, to be headed by another non—official member of CEGC K. S. Gopal, will examine the draft guidelines prepared on this periodically and the practices in “major” states and give suggestions to make them better, the official said.
This working group has been set up to suggest measures for optimising the potential of NREGA, enhancing agricultural productivity and reducing economic vulnerability of the beneficiaries of the programme, he added.