People’s Empowerment Through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) Partner: Rural Development Service Society (RDSS) Gaurav Vohra Venkata Paruchuri Varuna Mohan Rajasekhar Jammalamadaka AID Boston MIT CSH- Dec2011 Where? Visakhapatnam District Population 4,288,113 Males 2,140,872 Females 2,147,241 Growth(1991– 2001) 15.36% Rural 1,301,437 Urban 3,530,899 Scheduled Caste Population 291,219 (7.6%) Scheduled Tribe Population 557,572 (14.55%) Where? Vishakhapatnam - Kasimkota, Makavarapalem, Buchiyyapeta, Ravikamatham, Chodavaram Mandals Srikakulam – Santhakaviti, Ponduru, Kothuru, Bhamini, Seethampeta, Palakonda, Heeramandalam Mandals Other Chapters Reviewing • Amherst – Reviewed and approved Rs. 1.25 lakhs – Their first project • College Park – Review in progress • Tempe – Will be reviewing once students are back in Jan What is NREGA? • http://nrega.nic.in/guidelines.htm - 100 days of guaranteed work @ Rs. 121/day - Adult members of rural household- Mostly non skilled manual work - Rs 40,000 crore by Government for FY11-12 - Peak period (April-June & Jan-March) - People must file an application with receipt and will receive work within 15 days RDSS • Rural Development Service Society (RDSS) facilitates NREGA implementation in several mandals in Visakha and Srikakulam districts and brought the landmark ruling public interest litigation restoring the minimum wage in the sate. • AID has been supporting this work since the inception (2008-09). However, this is the first time Boston chapter has been requested for funding • Led by P.S. Ajay Kumar Different Initiatives Undertaken by RDSS Applications/Job cards/Awareness • • • • • Train uneducated people (SC/ST/BC) File applications : where/when/how Get receipt : no receipt - no work Conducting Grama-Sabhas So far 74 Grama-Sabhas spread across 3 Mandals were conducted with each being attended by more than 20 people Gram-Sabhas->Need • • • • • Progress of work Payments of wages Detailing rights as per the act File applications Kind of work/facilities/muster rolls Gram-Sabhas in blocks till now: 34 Sabhas April –March 2011 Ravikamatam 26 Sabhas Bucchiyyapeta April 2, 2010 Ramajogipalen 14 Sabhas Chodavaram April 4, 2011 Gauripatnem Other Issues • Job cards were first issued in 2008 - People who got married after that - not a separate family – no job card - People who are > 18 years old as of 2011 • Issues discussed in staff meting on April 17-18,2010 and conclusions: - Go to village / get details and file new applications Two new applications: Madugula / Lakkulu village - Apply to register the new people who are now majors 18 new people added in Adichaverlu village Grievance settlement • Toll free phone - Dial 155321 - Free of cost from cell/land line/coin phone Impact : After officials refused to listen to complaints, villagers called this number and then slowly, officials began to accept complaints • Ombudsman – in every district (Appointed by State Govt) • District Vigilance Officer (DVO) and Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) - 12 cases so far before DVO - 1 case before CVO Impact: 1) Irregularities were found, 5 field assistants removed 2) People saw results and are motivated to do more. Dharnas / Demonstrations/Rally To demand / protest against • Late payments • Non-Implementation of min. wage legislation • Demand 100 days of work they are entitled to • Spread awareness about NREGA - Ravikamatam : 7July 2010, 16Sept 2010, 22 Feb. 2011 - Bucchiyyapeta: 9 July 2010 (70 people), 26 Oct 2010 (150 people), 13 Mar 2011 (20 youth did Cycle Yatra in 8 interior adivasi villages) Foot march in Adivasi Villages • Objective of foot march: - Spread awareness/act/provisions of NREGA - Note down other issues faced by adivasis - Reports submitted to project director • In adivasi regions of Vishakapatnam • 7 day march started from Jan 22, 2011 • 80 volunteers participated from Chintapalli medical center • Covered 20Kms per day, walking through interior villages SR Sankaran Memorial March • In honor of Retired IAS officer SR Sankaran • 10 day Yatra in 2010 from Oct 20-30. • Issues raised - Food Security Act in Parliament - Welfare of Agriculture - Methods of Sustainable Agriculture • Build up and encouraged people to join Kisan Swaraj Yatra’s pitstop in Vishakapatnam in 10 Nov. 2010. Kisan Swaraj Yatra • Attended by 150 adivasis and poor agricultural workers from RDSS on Nov. 10, 2010. • Nation wide awareness Yatra to protect agriculture • RDSS discussed agricultural issues of adivasis. Block # of People Madugula 110 Rolugunta 90 Ravi kamatam 130 Buchhiyyapeta 30 Chodavaram 20 Natavaram 30 Srikakulam (Dist) 30 Total: 440 State meeting • State level public meeting at Paderu center in Visakha agency area • Theme was “Adivasis and NREGA” • Various organizations were present • Other attendees: - IAS officer Mr. R Subramaniam, social audit Director Ms. Soumya, Vishaka Project Director etc. - From Rajasthan, Mazdoor Kisan Sangramam Samithi (MKSS), Nikhil Dey was chief guest - From AID, Ravi and Aravinda were present and pledged support Social Audit • Audits are conducted regularly to tackle violations & other issues • RDSS staff ->Madugula mandal (Feb 2011)-> Villagers gather and file cases with DVO and Ombudsman->5 field assistants removed • Authorities invited these officers to other villages for audits • Three people among the staff elected as District Report Persons (DRP) for social audit department • Among the three, one is an adivasi and the other, a dalit. Public Interest Initiatives • Cyclone Jal (Sept - Oct 2010 ) Loss details submitted to government officials Result: 450 new applications were filed from 8 panchayats of Madugula • School surveys at alternative schools (pratyamnaya pathshaala) - Complaint: schools not running properly - Asked Mandal Education Officer for details of school, teachers and students - No initial response but after 3 requests to district collector, details of 60 schools were received - Incorrect ration reports were noticed from these surveys - Report was compiled and submitted (?) to National Committee for Protection of Child Right Training programs • Monthly training to the staff • Examples: Training in agriculture, NREGA, work measurement from 3-7 Nov. 2010 - 7 Nov in Natavaram - 21 July in Madugula - 4 Mar in Ravikamatam, Rolugunta - 13 Mar in Buchhiyyapeta, Chodavaram • On request of village development office, 2 day training in Vishakapatnam from March 24-25. Village social auditor and vigilance social auditors were trained • On request of ASDS in Khammam, training provided to staff on NREGS on Mar 3, 2011 High court- PIL • What for ? To raise the minimum wages. • Before filing the case, wage was Rs 80 but in May 2011, state govt. issued orders to raise the wage to Rs 100 (Minimum wage act is supposed to gurantee Rs 125 vs. actual wage of Rs 100. ) • Difference between this act vs. NREGA, and their implementation? • State govt. did not act on this order so contempt of court case was filed in High Court • Notable people like Sonia Gandhi, Chief Minister Rosiah and lawyer Prashant Bhushan were involved. • Impact: Min. wage was increased to Rs 121 in state of AP based on Central Government Order • Other issues discussed at national level: - NREGA - should we implement the Minimum Wage Act or not? - Can the government violate its own laws? - Can one law take away the rights given in another law? - After the Supreme Court gives a decision, can the parliament make a law against it? - Decision expected on 14 oct 2011 (Will give a follow up update on this) New Project Proposal • Project: NREGA improvement to strengthen the mates and working groups • Time Line: October 2011 – March 2013 • Area Covered: Visakha district Rural / Adivasi areas • Financial Assistance: Rs. 10, 89,750 Srama Sakthi Sangham (SSS) • Job card holder in an SSS must work in that group • Each job has code number • Code numbers are recorded to avoid false names / taking payment unlawfully • Will be provided both Work orders/muster rolls for each group • De-centralising the power of field assistants • To strengthen SSS: – Coordinate and learn among different SSS at village, district and state levels – Network is formed out of like minded mandals to collaborate between mates and SSS groups – Example: State level meeting was conducted on 15 Aug. 2011 in Hyderabad Mates • Mates are selected by each SSS group • Work typically involves: - Take the group members to the site of the work - Mark and measure the work on site - Fill up the muster roll and submit to the Field Assistant • More power to mates through empowerment • Members in the group led by a ‘Mate’ are typically geographically co-located. This would prevent entering fake names in the roster. • Collective bargaining power-More like Workers Union. Hierarchy of People Panchayat Field assistant 1 Mate 1 20-30 villagers select a mate Srama Sakti Sangam (SSS 1) Field assistant 2 Mate 2 ….…… Mate N 20-30 villagers select a mate SSS 2 Andhra Pradesh = 4,82, 571 SSS Visakha district = 25, 962 SSS = 4,85, 988 workers [50-60 in a panchayat and in each mandal around 600 - 800 SSS] 20-30 villagers select a mate SSS N N = 50 to 60 Obstacles Expected • Mates not literate and if at all, only up to elementary level • Overwhelming data collection and forms, each for different kind of work so understanding becomes more difficult for mates. Ex: Understand interactions and learn about NREGA , RIT, policies, acts, marking and measurement, data records etc • Need well trained mates for effective implementation • Idea is to teach one mate from each group to spread awareness and proper implementation of this act Overall plan of action • Timely guidance and regular bulletin updates of Govt. Provisions/GO’s - 4 page new bulletin - One bulletin per month up to 18 months - 13 mandals ->500 per mandal -> 6500 • Training programs - 3 day programs in 10 mandals (Visakha district) & 3 mandals of Srikakulam. - 30 mates per training ->390 mates overall - Each mate will train 50 people -> ~19,500 villagers possibly will be benefitted • Help centers at regional level - To solve doubts of mates and SSS members - Visit to villages as and when required - Meetings for regular updates and guidance to/from mates Financial Proposal Questions we had • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • What's the significance of these months Apr-Jun ? – no agri work/summer wages How did the workers earn their living before NREGA implementation? Social status of people? Their background and demographics? What is minimum wages act and how rigorously is it being implemented? What happened to the decision that is supposed to come out on Oct 14th? How are SSS mates who are uneducated being trained? Difference between minimum wages act and NREGA act? Which one is being effectively implemented? High court order on the discrepancy in the minimum wages paid Rs. 100 ( and not Rs. 125 as accordance with minimum wages act). the corresponding status of the state got.v order? Modus operandi of social audits in NREGA. Decentralization of rights of field assistants to involve more people to implement nrega? how effective has this been? Strategies employed to strength SSS from Mandal to state level. Obstacles facing training of mates. How can it be successful? Functioning of APNA and why did the staff/coordinators stop attending the conventions? Difference between right to life and right to work? Do we fully understand SSS hierarchy? Training of mates and do we have any past experience giving training to uneducated people like these, and any success there? May be they could benefit from some leanings from different organizations.