The financial year 2016-17 witnessed an unprecedented governance transformation in MGNREGS with a sustained thrust on water conservation. With over 82% active workers (9.1 crore) with Aadhaar seeding in NREGASoft, 4.6 crore workers on AadhaarBased Payment Bridge, electronic payment of 96% wages through Bank/Post Office accounts,more than 89 lakh assets geo tagged so far, 93 lakh jobcards deleted so far through proper verification, large scale drought proofing water conservation works in rainfall deficient regions, MGNREGS established itself as a well governed programme creating durable assets for livelihood security in poor regions, while providing employment on demand.
For the first time, deprivation levels of States were taken into account while approving Labour Budget. The April to July period in the financial year2016-17 witnessed an unprecedented demand for work on account of the continued drought. Thereafter, on account of a good monsoon in over 75% districts, the demand remained concentrated in drought affected regions like Karnataka. December onwards, as happens every year, demand for work again rose. MGNREGS achieved 230 crore person days which is higher than the revised labour budget. The total provisional expenditure of Rs. 58,056Crore (Central plus State) is the highest ever in MGNREGS in any year. 56% women in the wage employment generated is also the highest ever.
The pace for water conservation was set by the Prime Minister’s meetings on water conservation with the Chief Ministers of the drought affected States. States undertook their region specific unique water conservation initiatives using MGNREGS resources. MukhyaMantri Jal Swalamban Yojana to drought proof 3200 villages with 92000 water conservation structures in Rajasthan, Dobhas or farm ponds in clusters in every revenue villages of Jharkhand, NeeruChettu in Andhra Pradesh with thrust on farm ponds, Mission Kakatiya in Telengana, Kapildhara dug wells in Madhya Pradesh, Jal YuktaShivar and other water conservation measures in Maharashtra, all used MGNREGS as a resource for drought proofing for livelihood security. 15.47 lakh water related works were completed in FY 2016-17 including 5.66 lakh farm ponds. Nearly 90 lakh hectares of irrigation potential has been created through MGNREGS in FY 2015-16 and FY 2016-17, as revealed by the new practice of preparing Annual Performance Outcome Report of MGNREGS. An independent, multi- institution, multi disciplinary evaluation of all the water conservation works taken up in FY 2015-17 period under MGNREGS is being undertaken to ascertain the impact. The Report will be ready by 30 September 2017.
MGNREGS promoted large scale individual beneficiary schemes (over 14.61 lakh beneficiaries) for livelihood security like construction of poultry, goat breeding and dairy sheds; farm ponds and dug wells; support for housing and individual household latrines (IHHLs) in FY 2016-17. It also undertook innovative convergence initiatives for solid waste management in 11000 villages of Tamil Nadu and constructed over 4 lakh ‘magic pits’ for liquid waste management inTelengana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and many other States. To move unskilled MGNREGS workers up the skilling ladder, 29704 were trained for self-employment at Rural Self Employment Training Centres, 3812 were trained to become Barefoot Technicians, besides placement based wage employment to over 3000 workers under DDUGKY and training of Rural Masons under PMAY (Gramin).
In FY 2016-17 there was considerable emphasis on completion of incomplete works. More than 56 lakh works have been completed during the year which is the highest since the inception of the programme. Nearly 68% of the expenditure was on agriculture and allied activities and 62% of the expenditure was on Natural Resource Management works (NRM). In collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and Department of Land Resources, Mission Water Conservation guidelines were issued. 22 States held State level workshop on Mission Water Conservation with representatives from all relevant departments including Central Water Ground Board (CGWB) and State Remote Sensing Centre. States have been advised to ensure that not less than 65% of the expenditure in 2264 identified water stressed blocks will be pertaining to water conservation and water management in FY 2017-18.
Reduction in the delay in payment of wages will be a major thrust area for the Ministry in FY 2017-18. While States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Kerala are ensuring timely payment in 75% or more number of transactions, other States are lagging behind. The Ministry will be focusing on handholding other States and monitoring this item of work very closely so as to ensure timely payments of wages. Besides, social audits based on notified auditing standards, with the help of women SHG members as village resource persons will be another key area of work in the FY 2017-18.The Department shall release funds to States in early April to enable full scale water conservation works during the period of need.