The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or NREGS, has been promoted by the government as its marquee development programme.
The United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, which launched the scheme—promising 100 days of unskilled manual labour to a rural household—in 2005-06, had initially restricted it to 200 districts.
Subsequently, it has extended the scheme to all 604 districts in the country. Though it has provided employment to 34.2 million households (HH) by the end of May, the scheme has also been subject to charges of corruption and irregularities.
The Transparency International India-Centre for Media Studies (TII-CMS) Corruption Study 2007 addresses this criticism, not as a check on systemic irregularities in NREGS, instead in terms of corruption faced directly by below the poverty line, or BPL, households in the districts included in the first round. It found that nearly one in 10 households had to pay bribes to avail of the NREGS.
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