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NREGS wages revised, less than 5 per cent hike in 21 states, UTs

  • Published
    29th Dec, 2022
Context

Recently the Centre has notified fresh wage rates under rural job guarantee programme NREGS for financial year 2022-23, with 21 out of 34 states and Union Territories getting less than 5 per cent increase and 10 states getting more than 5 per cent hike.

About

About the reformed wages for NREGA labours:

  • The wage rates, notified by Ministry of Rural Development under sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, will be effective from April 1, 2023.

Under sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the MGNREGA, 2005, the Union government fixes state-wise wage rates for unskilled manual workers, who work under the rural job guarantee scheme.

  • Of the 31 states and UTs, which saw a hike in wages,
    • The maximum 7.14 per cent has been recorded in Goa — from Rs. 294 per day in 2021-22 to Rs. 315 per day in 2022-23.
    • The lowest increase of 1.77 per cent is in Meghalaya where the new wage rate has been fixed at Rs. 230 per day from the existing Rs.226 per day.
  • According to the new wage rates, five states and UTs with the highest NREGS wages are;
    • Haryana (Rs.331 per day);
    • Goa (315);
    • Kerala (311);
    • Karnataka (309); and
    • Andaman & Nicobar Islands (308).
  • Five states with lowest NREGS wages are;
    • Tripura (212);
    • Bihar (210);
    • Jharkhand (210);
    • Chhattisgarh (204); and
    • Madhya Pradesh (204).
    • There was no change in the wage rates of three states – Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • Only 10 states — Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa — have seen an increase of more than 5 per cent.

Criteria of wage rate increase for MGNREGA workers:

  • The MGNREGA wage rates are fixed according to changes in the CPI-AL (Consumer Price Index-Agriculture Labour), which reflects the increase in the inflation in rural areas.

Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Act, 2005:

  • The Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Act came into force from 2nd February, 2006 and was implemented in a phased manner.
  • The scheme was introduced as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work”.
  • The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.
  • Key objectives:
    • Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.
    • Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening livelihood base of rural poor.
    • Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals.
    • Reduce urban migration from rural areas.
    • Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour.

Information linked to MGNREGA:

  • The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments.
  • Individual beneficiary oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
  • Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
  • Right to get unemployment allowancein case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
  • Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory,which lends to accountability and transparency.
  • The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands.
  • It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayats which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority

Challenges associated:

  • Low wage rate: The low wage rates have resulted in lack of interest among workers in working for MGNREGA schemes, making way for contractors and middle men to take control, locally.
  • Insufficient budget allocation: MGNREGA’s success at the ground level is subject to proper and uninterrupted fund flow to the states. But the fund allocation is insufficient to ensure proper implementation on the ground.
  • Regular payment delays:Despite the order of the Supreme Court and initiatives and GO (Government Order) by the Union Ministry of Finance, no provision has yet been worked out in the MIS for calculation of full wage delays and payment of compensation for the same.
  • Workers penalised for administrative lapses: The ministry withholds wage payments for workers of states that do not meet administrative requirements within the stipulated time period. It is beyond any logic as to why workers would be penalised for administrative lapses.
  • The banking puzzle:Due to great rush and poor infrastructure, the bank passbooks are not updated in many cases. Often, the workers do not get their wages during times of need due to the hassle and the cost involved in getting wages from the bank.
  • Faulty MIS data: There is a growing pile of evidence on how real-time MIS has made MGNREGA less transparent for workers, reduced accountability of frontline functionaries and aided in centralisation of the programme.
  • Non-payment of unemployment allowance: There are a huge number of unemployment allowances being shown in the MIS currently.
  • Genuine job cards being deleted to meet 100% DBT targets:While the government has been boasting about Aadhar-based savings, the reality is that a huge number of genuine job cards and ration cards are getting deleted and genuine people have been deprived of their due entitlements.

 

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