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Improving Muster Roll and Measurement Procedure in NREGA

I am Samir Garg, working on the issue of tribal rights in Chhattisgarh with Adivasi Adhikar Samity. Our intervention has a focus on promoting grassroots mobilisation around food and work entitlements.

Being an activist working on issues of Right to Food and Work, I was concerned about the anomaly in current muster roll design in my state as it resulted in a large number of NREGS workers not getting paid as per the amount of task done by them. There was little information in the public domain on how to improve the muster roll design. I put a query in Solutions Exchange Work and Employment Community as I was confident that this would help me in accessing the specific information I was looking for.

Specific Inputs:

The muster roll designs that were shared by members of Solutions Exchange Work and Employment Community were indeed very useful. I received examples of muster roll designs from the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Kerala. The details of the specific responses that have been considered for my design plan are discussed below:

Inputs from Maharashtra: Attendance is taken twice (morning and afternoon) every day in an Attendance Sheet. Labourers work in groups and the evaluation of the volume of group work is evaluated weekly and payments are disbursed fortnightly in accordance with the amount of work done. A Schedule of Rates is maintained that looks keeps a tab that if a labourer works for seven hours then he/she can be entitled to the minimum wage.

‘To ensure transparency in the measurement procedures, a provision in Maharashtra makes it mandatory for the implementing organization to put up a display board in a local language near the work site clearly citing the way a sample of work is measured and wages calculated. This provision helps the labourers in keeping a record of their work and counters any miscalculations done by the implementing agency and hence prevents any potential loss of their wage’.

Inputs from Rajasthan: This elucidates the state having one of the most comprehensive and transparent system for measuring labourer’s work. There is a proforma for recording daily work that got created as a result of labour movement among the worker’s organization. The proforma advocates for recording and measurement systems for individual’s work rather that basing on attendance. It was worth noting that this movement has impacted the implementation strategy of other states as well.

The following attachments, which have been approved by the Government of Rajasthan, have given excellent insight for the muster roll design plan:

  • Dainik Karya Maap Proforma (Daily Work Measurement Proforma)
  • Karyasthala Diary (Worksite Diary)
  • Napti Board (Measurement Board)
  • Nirdesh (Guidelines)
  • Saamagri Sandharan Register

Inputs from Kerala: There were suggestions on how each possible work under NREG could be defined separately and possible result for all of them can be recorded using systematic Time and Motion studies. This would simplify the estimation and measurement greatly. It was noteworthy that the Government of Kerala was in the process of finalizing the above-mentioned procedure in the pilot districts of NREGS within the state.

It was further suggested that each labor team may be assigned a work in total and record the muster role as per field conditions. After the completion of the work, the valuation amount could be divided as per attendance. However, the payment of each family could be limited to hundred days of minimum wages as per the act. This would give incentive for more people to join the scheme and larger assets can be created.

Outcomes:

The diverse and specific responses from various parts of the country were immensely helpful. I will state some of the outcomes from my seeking the services of the Solution Exchange below.

  • Design of an appropriate muster roll design:
    The inputs from members helped me in understanding ways to resolve the issues of muster roll design. They gave me a thorough exposure to the existing practices across the country and also brought to light the challenges, learning and successes of the practice. The discussion enabled me to compare experiences and practices of other states with the existing system in my state (Chhattisgarh) and assess their relative merits and demerits. The information and reflection put together enabled me to develop a muster roll format that was appropriately designed and adapted for measurement and recording of daily individual task.
  • Strengthening the knowledge of civil society Groups for  influencing Policy in Chattisgarh:
    I was able to share the information received from SE in response to the query posted with my colleagues in the Right to Food Campaign in Chhattisgarh. The campaign team in turn was able to think of further collection of local field data so that the desired strategy for advocacy on the issue with the state government could be formulated. The muster roll design plan for the state of Chhattisgarh is in the process. The policy dialogue with the stakeholders has already started but yet to yield results.

I am highly satisfied with the abovementioned responses and inputs received from the members. I am particularly impressed with the efforts of the Work and Employment Community in contacting the potential sources of the required information. Apart from the above specific benefit, as a member of the SE Work and Employment Community, I have gained from my regular interaction with the platform. I regularly go through (and sometimes even participate in) queries and related debates posted by other member of the community. Here knowledge exchange creates a rippling effect in knowledge dissemination across different sections of the society.