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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Has the MGNREGA app made a distinction?

For the MGNREGA labourers in KG Kandigai in Tiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu, the routine was the identical for 100 days yearly. They might wrap up their family chores within the morning, ship their kids to highschool and attain their job web site by 9.30 am, the place their Mahatma Gandhi Nationwide Rural Employment Assure Act mate or supervisor marks their attendance. They might work within the morning, break for lunch and restart their work, solely to wrap up and depart by night.

However they are saying that their routine has altered for the reason that starting of 2023. “Now we have been requested to come back to the websites by 7.30 am by the supervisors, to mark our attendance,” says Yaagavalli, a employee.

MGNREGA workers in KG Kandigai digging a pond

MGNREGA staff in KG Kandigai digging a pond

For the reason that starting of January 2023, the Ministry of Rural Growth had made it necessary for them to get their attendance marked by way of the Nationwide Cellular Monitoring System (NMMS) App. The intention of the app is to usher in larger transparency and weed out alleged malpractices related to the the method involving the attendance of real beneficiaries below MGNREGA.

Visits to MGNREGA websites by businessline revealed that the response to the app is combined throughout the nation with a number of teething troubles seen within the preliminary months.

The NMMS App

The working of the app, as defined by Roopa, a web site supervisor, is kind of easy. The supervisors must obtain the app on their smartphones and must take geo-tagged photographs of staff twice a day – within the morning and within the afternoon and add it on the server. Attendance will get marked primarily based on the app-based pictures.

The NMMS app is used to mark attendance

The NMMS app is used to mark attendance

Whereas this appears easy on paper, the employees and web site supervisors have a distinct story to inform. “Beforehand, the employees and I’d come to the location by 9 am. Whereas they might begin the work, I’d fill the muster rolls. However now, we’ve to take a sequence of pictures and that’s fairly time-consuming. So, all of us attempt to come to the location between 7 and seven.30 within the morning. We ship the employees who come late again residence as a result of they might miss the day’s attendance anyway,” says Roopa.

“It takes us some time to add all these photographs collectively, owing to the dangerous community connectivity. Additionally, my telephone hangs more often than not.” The community connectivity within the village remained fairly poor all through that day. Roopa and two different supervisors stated that they purchased a smartphone solely across the time that the app was launched, after taking a mortgage from self-help teams.

What information reveals

Information from the MGNREGA portal from April 6, 2023, reveals that simply 56.3 per cent of the entire gram panchayats within the nation at the moment use the app to mark the employees’ attendance. This development is totally different throughout states. Whereas in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, 97 and 92 per cent of the entire panchayats have began utilizing the app to mark attendance, none in Goa makes use of it. In West Bengal, solely eight out of three,339 panchayats use it.

Bengal’s woes

The app is simply one of many issues for the MGNREGA labourers of the Jap State. The scheme proved to be a lifeline for a whole bunch of women and men significantly in districts like Purulia the place agriculture can show to be tough because of the terrain and lack of water. However villagers say that the final time they managed to get some work was in 2021, for which they nonetheless haven’t obtained the fee ever for the reason that Central authorities stopped releasing funds below Part 27 MGNREGA to the State citing misappropriation and different irregularities. As of March 2023, the wage legal responsibility of the Centre to West Bengal alone is ₹2,763 crore.

The information of the introduction of the app has left numerous West Bengal’s MGNREGA labourers involved. “ Already below the present scheme, there have been occasions when we’ve misplaced out cash as a result of the supervisor says that the standard commonplace was not adhered to. I have no idea what’s going to occur if our pictures don’t get correctly uploaded,” stated  Apurbo Mahato, a labourer from Lalpur village.

Purulia, West Bengal, MGNREGS workers of Purulia talks to Businessline about their problems in non-payment. Photo Debasish Bhaduri

Purulia, West Bengal, MGNREGS staff of Purulia talks to Businessline about their issues in non-payment. Picture Debasish Bhaduri
| Picture Credit score: Debasish Bhaduri

A couple of random photographs uploaded by way of the NMMS app that businessline accessed appeared fairly blurry. Solely a few of them had clear photographs of staff. Actually, some photographs confirmed tiled flooring and concreted roads and had no human face in any respect.

An NMMS app image that was accessed from the website

An NMMS app picture that was accessed from the web site

Salim Aroosa, a supervisor within the Khairipihira village, shared one other fear.  “Typically, it might occur {that a} employee could really feel sick or unwell halfway by his work and should must go residence. In such circumstances, we often mark them current in order that they don’t lose out on wages. Nevertheless, below this new system, this will not be attainable,” he stated. Roopa additionally famous this.

Standing throughout states

However not all staff are sad with the app. As an example, the employees of Vadlakonda village within the Janagaon district of Telangana say that the app hasn’t affected their routine in any respect.  On the identical time, D Lakpati, a supervisor in  Kundaram village stated that he faces delays in marking attendance at occasions. “I hope that is addressed,’‘ he stated.

Workers at Yana Cheruvu, off Vadlakonda village, Janagaon district, Telangana

Employees at Yana Cheruvu, off Vadlakonda village, Janagaon district, Telangana
| Picture Credit score: G Naga Sridhar

Authorities in Gujarat’s Mehsana district say that they’ve ensured that the implementation of the app stays hassle-free and efficient. An official from the District Rural Growth Company stated that the expertise by and enormous has been clean barring cases of web failure and technical glitches.

On the identical time, Ashok Shrimali, a social activist from Ahmedabad flagged a couple of different points. “The app causes friction between staff and supervisors. In another cases, the supervisors have been seen asking for cash in trade for regularising attendance. Employees don’t have any choice however to simply accept this,” he stated.

What the govt. says?

The problems that the employees and supervisors shared with businessline have been additionally according to the report of a parliamentary standing committee on Rural Growth and Panchayati Raj. “Your entire train of capturing two real-time pictures in a day hinges upon a couple of key components similar to the provision of smartphones, correct web connectivity and the presence of MGNREGA staff on each stipulated occasions for proverbial ‘in’ and ‘out’  attendance,” the report reads.  

“Anticipating the MGNREGA staff to be effectively versed with the functioning and language of the app or for that matter even relying upon a nodal human intervention maybe provides to their woes. Furthermore, usually the fluid timings of the work web site necessitate the employees to maintain on ready there even after the completion of labor for his or her picture capturing,” it provides.

Nevertheless, it notes that the intention behind the introduction of the app isn’t malicious and supposed to usher larger transparency which might come after some preliminary teething troubles.

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