MGNREGS | Over 40% of gram panchayats do not report digital attendance

Activists say low usage of the National Mobile Monitoring System, the mobile app used for attendance, shows there is a slowdown in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme work and the government is using technology as an excuse to put an end to the scheme

Updated - February 25, 2023 11:45 am IST

Published - February 24, 2023 09:44 pm IST - New Delhi

As per the Ministry of Rural Development statistics, NMMS usage has been reported only in 1,58,390 of the total 2,69,637 gram panchayats as on February 24, 2023. Photo:

As per the Ministry of Rural Development statistics, NMMS usage has been reported only in 1,58,390 of the total 2,69,637 gram panchayats as on February 24, 2023. Photo:

It has been 55 days since the government made it mandatory that the attendance for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers will be captured through a mobile application, National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS), but the Ministry of Rural Development’s own statistics point out that 41.3% of the gram panchayats report no NMMS device usage.

As per Ministry statistics (MIS report 21.6), as on February 24, NMMS usage has been reported only in 1,58,390 of the total 2,69,637 gram panchayats. The work of recording the attendance at each worksite is done by MGNREGS mates or supervisors. A total of 3,83,421 mates have registered with NMMS, but as on date, only 99,687 registered devices have been used to record the attendance which is merely 25.9%.

However, according to Ministry officials, an average of 85% of MGNREGS worksites currently use the NMMS app to collect data. “Only community work under MGNREGS requires NMMS. Out of this also, keeping in mind the area-specific challenges like low connectivity in hilly regions or remote areas, the District Programme Coordinator has the power to give exemption. So currently nearly 10% of worksites have exemptions,” a senior official explained.

Activists though claim that the low usage shows that there is a slowdown in MGNREGS work. Under the banner of NREGA Sangarsh Morcha, workers from across the country are holding a 100-day protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. In a press conference at the protest site, activist and key architect of MGNREGS Aruna Roy said the government is using “technology as an excuse for destroying the programme”.

“This is a participative law and cannot be set aside by a government diktat. It is a law created by the people. MGNREGS is right to life, right to food and right to survive. It is not a luxury,” she said. The Act she said, became a reality after nearly decade-long dialogue with workers, economists, Opposition parties and the government. Every rule or change in the implementation of the Act should have been done in consultation with people, but the government has not held any deliberations in the last eight years, she added.

Sudama Devi, a worker from Muzaffarpur who has been camping for the last one week at Jantar Mantar said that NMMS has brought in a fresh load of challenges like low internet connectivity. “Hamare pass khane ka toh paisa nahi hai aur ab sarkar chahti hai hum phone bhi layein kaam karne ke liye. Kahin Jio ka sim chalta hai, kahin airtel ka, kitna sim kareedein? (We don’t have money to eat and now they want us to buy phones too. At some places Jio works and at other places Airtel, so how many sim cards do we buy),” she complained.

MGNREGS activist Nikhil Dey said the government has claimed that it brought in NMMS to counter corruption. “Government claims that NMMS will help in better monitoring but how can the onus be put on the worker? Under this system, the mates who are semi-skilled workers dependent on the erratic MGNREGS wages have to provide for mobile phone and pay Internet bills. They are not being given any additional wages for the exercise,” he said.

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