Watch Annual Meetings development events from Oct 10-13. Comment and engage with experts. Calendar of Events

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Submitted by Shilp Verma on
I strongly feel that an entitlement-centric view of NREGA is dangerous. NREGA has immense potential but there's also a good chance that it will end up helping the (relatively) rich and bypass the poor completely. It's one thing to pay people to dig a hole and then pay them again to fill it up but if the objective is merely entitlement, simple cash transfer schemes are much better and cheaper. NREGA can and should be used to achieve much more than that. For instance, 3/4th of NREGA works are directly or indirectly related to the country's water resources - check dams, pond de-silting, watershed activities, group wells etc. NREGA offers a great opportunity to enhance rural water security, provided that the right works are chosen and the quality of work implementation is maintained. Like for most public works programs, NREGA's self-evaluations largely measure spending or, at best, number of days of employment provided, and not on the quality of work undertaken. While it is commendable that the government is keen on making NREGA works transparent, good intentions on their own do not guarantee good results. Building water harvesting structures that do not harvest any water nor enhance groundwater recharge, digging ponds that never fill up and paving roads that will get washed away in the next monsoon is hardly the best way to spend public money - even if employment guarantee is ensured. The government needs to take a more ambitious view of NREGA's potential and aim for more than mere doles and entitlements.