By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 1: The Mahatma Gandhi tiol Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) may have given livelihood to lakhs of people, but the flagship scheme has failed to make any impact in regenerating the village economy in Assam as no focus was given on creating productive assets.
As the debate over effectiveness of MGNREGA rages, official statistics say that only 11.38 per cent of works taken up in Assam during the last fiscal, have been completed up to March this year.
A total of 88,879 works were taken up under the scheme in the year 2015-16, and only 10,111 have been completed in the fincial year.
Moreover, 1,39,157 schemes approved under the scheme are “not in progress.”
Sector-wise, 35,473 flood control schemes were taken up under MGNREGA, but only 3,790 of them were completed. Around 3,315 water harvesting and conservation schemes were taken up, and only 311 completed.
Similarly, under drought proofing, 12,598 schemes were taken up and 2,147 completed. For land development, 9,139 schemes were taken up and 1,108 completed. Only nine of the 824 schemes taken up for rural sanitation were completed, while 148 of the 1,670 fisheries schemes taken up were completed.
A comprehensive assessment of the scheme by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi, says that the scheme has huge potential for regenerating the village economy in India, but only if its focus remains on creation of productive assets.
The scheme is also plagued by incomplete and abandoned works, and lack of maintence of completed works.
Although the largest amount of fund for the scheme till date was spent during 2015-16, it was also the worst year ever in terms of assets created (2.27 million assets) across the country, a 23% decline from 2014-15.
According to a World Bank report, even though MGNREGS is better targeted than a cash transfer scheme would be, wage earnings alone are not sufficient to make it more cost-effective at reducing poverty. “But, it could, if the assets created under it are of sufficient value to the poor,” the World Bank said.
Launched in 2005, the rural employment programme is among the largest poverty alleviation programmes in the world with more than 5 crore beneficiaries and expenditure ranging between 0.5% and 1% of the size of the economy.