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A few district administrations in the country have introduced innovative methods of implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). A summary of some initiatives is given below.

Payment through coupons

The district administration in Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh, has distributed ‘shramik’ coupons to NREGS workers in Taharpur and Niwaspur villages in Kadora block. These coupons are designed to look like cheques. Each cheque, with a counterfoil, has a value of Rs 100, which is the minimum wage in Uttar Pradesh. A ‘cheque book’ of coupons is distributed at the start of every financial year.

If a worker does not have a bank account at the time of payment, he submits coupons equal to the number of days he has worked, to the gram rozgar sevak. That is, if a worker has worked for three days, he has to present three coupons of Rs 100 each. The rozgar sevak withdraws and pays him the money accordingly. He cannot withdraw more money as withdrawals are cross-checked against the number of coupons.

Every day, workers ask the rozgar sevak to put an NREGS seal on the counterfoil. If a worker has not been paid for the number of days he has worked, he can always show, as proof, the stamped counterfoil and get his due wages.

The shramik cheque book, like a job card, remains with the worker at all times. A significant advantage of the cheque book is that, at the time of inspection, all the inspector has to do is check a shramik coupon and ask the rozgar sevak how much the labourer has been paid. The amount is immediately checked against the counterfoil to see whether the total amount has been paid.

Group-wise napi/payment system

The district administration in Jalore, Rajasthan, has introduced a group-wise napi/payment system that ensures that workers are paid according to the work they have completed. This system was specifically put in place to discourage the uniform, collective napi/payment system prevalent in Rajasthan, under which workers were being paid a mere Rs 45 a day — way below the daily minimum wage rate of Rs 73.

Under the alternative system, the work done by each group of workers is assessed and paid separately. Smallgroupsof five workers each are formed and each group is given a separate task(equivalent to Rs 73 per person per day). The tasks completed by each group are recorded every day. The average wage rate is calculated for each group based on work done at the end of a fortnight; separate payment is made to each group.

A mate/worksite supervisor records the work completed and pays the workers accordingly.

Right from the start, there has been a strong emphasis on having a woman supervisor/mate who has completed Class V. Around 1,400 women workers were shortlisted.