The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) came into force in September 2005. The guidelines issued by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) emphasise that it is a rights-based programme, which makes the State legally accountable to provide wage employment to those who demand it. The Act provides a social safety net to the rural poor by providing wage employment in times of dire need. The various provisions in the Act – such as, legally binding the State to provide employment, total ban on the use of contractors, transparency and accountability at all stages through social audit, unemployment allowance if employment not given – are path breaking in the history of rural development in India. The Act also aims to strengthen decentralised planning and implementation by making Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) the implementing agency for the schemes.