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The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, better known as NREGA, is perhaps the first of its kind in the world when the Congress-led UPA Govt. has adopted a revolutionary step by providing an economic safety net to 2/3 of the country’s population or 71.9 per cent India’s rural poor. The NREGA news can be well taken as an innovative policy to boost (1) the rural economy, (2) stabilize agricultural production and (3) reduce the population pressure on urban areas for employment and thereby transform the geography of poverty. The NREGA, by providing legal guarantee to work, marks a paradigm shift from all earlier and existing wage employment programs because it is an Act and not just a scheme. In the words of Sonia Gandhi, President AICC; “The basic principle of all these (other employment schemes) programs was restricted only to the executive guarantee of employment. But our National Rural Employment Guarantee Program … is based on the principle of legal guarantee meaning that it will be enforced as law.” Thus the NREGA is a demand driven scheme and not a supply driven as the earlier wage employment schemes. The Preamble to the Act provides: “The Act aims to provide the enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas of the country by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.”
That the NREGA program guarantees at least 100 days of wage employment in every financial year to every household is known by almost every member but beyond that what and how it is actually implemented or ought to be implemented in strict compliance with the guidelines of the Act is almost not known to a larger section of the people. This is entirely the fault of the State Govt. which has failed to undertake the intensive Information Education Communication (IEC) to educate the people of their rights under the Act. In the light of this background, relevant salient features of the Act is reproduced here for ready reference by the general public, for them to know how to ensure and enforce effective implementation of the scheme henceforth:

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DEO West Bengal