“Group Measurement” of NREGA work-- The Jalore Experiment
Rajasthan is seen as the forerunner with respect to the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), both in terms of scale of works and transparency safeguards. This combination has meant that large numbers of people have benefited from the NREGA in the state. The scale of NREGA works in Rajasthan is impressive -- according to official statistics, in 2006-7 and 2007-8 Rajasthan generated 77 days and 68 days, respectively, of employment per rural household (in the districts where NREGA was in force), the highest in the country. More recently, there have been positive reports of Rajasthan’s efforts to improve worksite management. Proper worksite management is essential for at least three purpose -- ensuring good working conditions and the provision of mandatory worksite facilities ; implementing the transparency safeguards; providing technical supervision to ensure satisfactory labour productivity and asset creation. Related to effective worksite management, an important issue that has not been resolved yet is that often NREGA labourers in Rajasthan are not paid the statutory minimum wage. Low wages are commonly attributed to low productivity on worksites. This means that labourers do not (or are unable to) perform the “task” required to earn the minimum wage. There could be several reasons for this -- excessive productivity norms, confusion or lack of awareness regarding the task that must be performed to earn the minimum wage, poor worksite supervision arrangements, and poor work incentives related to the system of wage calculation. This brief note takes a closer look at an experiment of training mates (worksite supervisors) in Rajasthan to improve worksite management. It is based on a four-day field visit (11-14 February, 2008) to Jalore district where this experiment is said to have been a success. A team of three researchers visited nine ongoing worksites from two blocks of Jalore (Raniwara and Jalore) and two completed worksites. The Gram Panchayats (GPs) visited include Bakra Road (one worksite), Leta (two worksites), Oon (one worksite) and Sankarna (three worksites) in Jalore Block. For this Block we got a list of Gram Panchayats with ongoing works. From this list, we selected Bakra Road and Sankarna because they were served by buses and Leta and Oon because these were accessible by bicycle. The closest Gram Panchayat was Leta (6 km from Jalore district headquarters) and the furthest was Bakra Road (about 25 km away). We also visited two GPs in Raniwara Block on the recommendation of the District Collector and Block Development Officer.
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