Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY)

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Thus, in practice, there was little difference between the JGSY and the

EAS, in terms of both objectives and implementation failures, with the only

substantive difference being administrative. The JGSY was implemented by

village-level institutions (Panchayti Raj institutions), while the EAS relied on

the state administrative apparatus.10 In September 2001, on-going schemes

under the EAS and the JGSY were merged into a new scheme – the SGRY.

The objectives of SGRY are to provide additional wage employment in rural

areas and also food security, alongside the creation of durable community,

social and economic assets and infrastructure development. A part of wages

to the workers is to be distributed in the form of 5 kilograms of food grains

per day. The cash component is shared by the central and state governments

in the ratio of 75:25, while the cost of food grains distributed to the states

is borne entirely by the central government. The SGRY is implemented in

two streams, with each stream receiving half of the total resources available.

The fi rst stream is implemented through district and intermediate elected

bodies (such as Zilla Parishads and Block Panchayats), while in the other

stream funds are allocated to the village Panchayats (see note 3).

The SGRY also encompasses all food-for-work programs in the country,

since it includes a special component for augmenting food security through

additional wage employment in calamity-affected rural areas. A certain

percentage of foodgrains allotted under the SGRY is reserved for this

purpose. Foodgrains under the Special Component can be utilized by

any scheme of the central or state government that is implemented to

generate additional employment in calamity-affected areas. Administrative

arrangements for implementing the SGRY involve coordination among three

central ministries, namely, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. The

Food Ministry releases grains at the direction of the Ministry of Agriculture,

while the Rural Development Ministry is responsible for administration and

supervision. The scheme is self-targeting and available to the rural poor, who

are in need of wage employment and willing to take up unskilled, manual

work at specifi ed wage rates. Preference should be given to the poorest of

the poor, women, and scheduled castes and tribes. The benefi ciaries are

selected by the Gram Panchayat during meetings of the village assembly

(Gram Sabha).

The emphasis on payment in kind – via foodgrains – combined with the

diffi culty and cost of storing and transporting foodgrains reduces the scope

for misappropriation of resources by offi cials. Nonetheless, responsibilities

for storage, transport and distribution within districts are contracted out to

fair price shops (which are part of the central government targeted public

distribution system of subsidized foodgrains) and the associated contractors.

This has created substantial scope for fraudulent practices due to the large

gap between market prices and prices in fair price shops (though the gap has

been declining of late). Nayak et al. (2002) estimate that the combination

of malpractice among administrators at lower levels of government and

contractors results in perhaps only 25 per cent of the wage funds to which

benefi ciaries are entitled actually reaching them.

SGRY, the latest incarnation of employment-based, food-for-work

targeting in India, is too recent for any comprehensive evaluation studies to

have been done. However, one recent study has reviewed the implementation

of the SGRY in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Using primary data collected

over 12 months between 2001 and 2002 from six villages, Deshingkar and

Johnson (2003) fi nd little has changed at the ground level in implementing

the SGRY. Despite attempts at decentralization of decision-making in

the SGRY, village-level governments (Gram Sabhas and Panchayats) are

often controlled by the local landed elite. Benefi ciaries were selected during

meetings among the local offi cials (members of Panchayat and village heads)

and contractors, and the decisions announced in the village meetings of the

Gram Sabha. In three villages, the largest number of laborers were hired

from the hamlet of the village head, while in another the largest share of

hired labor belonged only to the caste of the village head.

There was also widespread use of contractors, contrary to the scheme

guidelines, often in connivance with local offi cials. The contractors also

obtained illegal profi t by claiming the full rice quota for partially and

poorly completed works, claiming rice for old assets already completed

under some other scheme, ‘double-dipping’ by fi ling separate claims to

different departments for the same work, and submitting infl ated costs in

works proposals. In addition, contractors often decided to pay labor only

in cash either because rice was released late to the contractors, or because

the contractor could sell the rice in the open market at a profi t.11

The impact of the scheme varied across the six villages, being relatively

high in one village (which also had the lowest corruption in implementation),

but miniscule in most others. On an average, 24 per cent of households

sampled in these villages had participated in the scheme (ranging from 65

per cent in one village to 3 per cent in the worst case). With the exception

of the single village, the number of person days of employment created was

also low, averaging less than 14 days per participating household. Two major

reasons contributing to this, aside from corruption and leakage, were use of

outside or migrant labor by contractors to minimize costs, and substantial

use of labor-displacing machinery (often owned by contractors).