Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is considered as a “Panacea” for eradicating rural poverty and unemployment. Its objectives are: (a) provide, on demand, not less than one hundred days of unskilled manual work in a financial year to every household in rural areas; (b) create productive assets of prescribed quality and durability through wage employment; (b) strengthen the livelihood resource base of the rural poor; (c) proactively ensure social inclusion; and (d) strengthen Panchayat Raj Institutions.

Arunachal Pradesh, one of the eight north-eastern states of India is a rural-based state where the majority of the population depends on agriculture. In this context, the rural employment guarantee programme has played a significant role in alleviating rural poverty by giving them 100 days guaranteed job in a year. In the state, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) during 2006 was initially launched only in one district and was further extended to two more districts the next financial year in 2007. Currently, the programme is being implemented in all the 16 districts of the state barring few recently created districts. While some districts in Arunachal Pradesh are performing very well; some others are worst performers,and Kurung Kumey is one of the worst performing districts of the state regarding implementing this programme.

Thus, the present study attempts to critically examine the implementation process of this programme and its impact on tribal livelihoods that is, to what extent MGNREGA has given justice in sustaining the livelihoods of poor tribal communities in a Panchayat of Kurung Kumey district, Arunachal Pradesh. The study reveals that there is little impact of MGNREGA on tribal livelihoods. The faulty implementation strategy has ruined the spirit of this programme. Religion and street biases and favouritism in case of distribution of job cards, the dominance of dominant families, poor leadership and improper coordination among the stakeholders have stood as significant hurdles in this programme.