MGNREGA - 10 Years of success story or a failure?

MGNREGA – 10 Years of success story or a failure?


10 years ago, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was implemented by former UPA government to create job opportunities in rural locations of India where poverty was mostly saturated. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Congress got re-elected because of the initial success and popularity of this scheme in rural belts.

However, the ways of implementation of the program reportedly got corrupt soon after and people starting losing faith in the scheme. NDA government openly criticized the scheme to be “living monument” of UPA’s failure. The election campaign went strongly against the scheme. Now the government is going all praises for MGNREGA, calling it the ‘best scheme ever since independence.”

On the 10th anniversary of MGNREGA, the debate on whether or not the scheme has a success story to tell is trending all over. The scheme initially guarantees a minimum of 100 days of work in a year with well-defined wages for men and women of rural areas if they are willing to work. If the state government fails to fulfil employment demand within 15 days, he/she is entitled to get unemployment allowance.


1. Equality promoted: Equal work opportunity is a reverie in India, without being discriminated on basis of caste and gender. MGNEGA showed that it is possible for equality to prevail in work. The scheme gives equal opportunity to work for everyone regardless of caste or gender. Equal pay for men and women is a daydream in India but MGNERA made it possible for rural women to have equal earning opportunity along with men.

2. Restoration of wells and ponds: NREGA has reached out to many remote villages and helped in restoration of ponds by removing silt. Many wells have been prevented from drying in summer heat. Along with employing people of these villages in developing watering facilities for them, NREGA has resolved the issues of water restoration in many ways. Building and revival of water conservation structures is one of the best works done under this scheme.

3. Cleaning work: A good part of the NREGA program took to cleaning. Water supply channels like ditches along the roads were cleared. In districts of Tamil Nadu, the NGREGA took to cleaning bushes and grass in the channels to ensure better drainage. This proved to be beneficial as fewer bunds were breached during the recent flood in the state.

4. Restorations at the Sundarbans: Embankments were built to prevent high tide and flood waters from drowning habitation areas. Flood protection work was undertaken at large scale. Refurbishment of mangroves to prevent erosion of soil has also worked very well.

5. Other beneficiary works: NREGA collaborated with fishery department to generate profit from fish farm ponds dug by them. Plantation and afforestation work under this scheme have had positive effect on the environment. Recharging public wells and borewells have also been undertaken by NREGA which have proved to be advantageous in many districts of Jharkhand and Karnataka.

6. Waste recycling work: In Tamil Nadu and adjoining states, NREGA workers have undertaken an excellent waste management project. They collect discarded garbage from households and collect them in a yard. The bio-degradable waste is composted while the non-degradable waste is sold to road contractors to use them in road laying.


1. No asset created: Unless and until a government scheme created some asset, it cannot be called complete success. MGNEGA is one such scheme that created employment in rural belts but generated no asset from the investment done by the state and central government for funding the scheme. The audit reports by The Controller and Auditor General shows “significant deficiencies” in the scheme and concludes that more investment in this scheme will be non-profitable.

2. Exaggerated reports: The reports of higher agricultural wage rate and significant decrease in immigration of rural population to urban cities are actually a tad more exaggerated opposed to what real statistics have to say about it.

3. Randomly done work: The projects undertaken under NREGA are mostly arbitrarily done work that lacks proper planning and implementation. The silt removed from ponds were left beside the pond itself only to flow back during the next monsoon. There have also been some unnecessary work done under the NREGA project. Those projects have been a total waste of money with unnecessary diggings at places that did not benefit from them during summer when water evaporated easily.

4. Scarcity of men at agriculture: People saw NREGA as an opportunity for less work and more pay. More and more people flowed towards MNGEGA projects hence creating shortage of men to work in agricultural fields during harvest seasons. Decrease in productivity and outcome is because of people’s interest in the 100 days/per year work scheme. The work involved in these projects are less exhausting compared to agricultural work which is why people in good number went for them while ignoring cultivation.

5. ill-distribution of resources: Corrupt practices of ill-distribution of pay to workers, creation of fake bills, delay in payments, scamming of funds had entered NREGA long back which led to the epic failure and criticism of the scheme by the government.


MNGREGA have might have its downfalls but the advantages and opportunities created by the scheme cannot be disregarded. That’s the basic reason why NDA government decided to continue funding the scheme despite criticizing it as a failure. The new budget also raised the funding to NREGA showing full support to the rural development plan.

However, it is important that on the 10th anniversary of the scheme, the government takes it on them to improvise on the drawbacks of the scheme after proper analysis based on the performance of the scheme in all these years.

With proper planning, good coordination by the government engineers, and strict monitoring of funds, this scheme will not just be good for employment in rural areas but also for creation of asset which has been its major drawback.
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  • RE: MGNREGA – 10 Years of success story or a failure? -patil sandip (03/05/16)
  • It is really the good scheme for rural development but it can't see actually working on land but it still working on papers only as I know because I belong to rural area.