[Reader-list] Reg: Set - 3

Rakesh Iyer rakesh.rnbdj at gmail.com
Thu Jun 17 23:19:16 IST 2010

Theme: NREGA (Right to Employment)

Source: Mint


Date: Posted: Sun, Mar 21 2010. 9:15 PM IST

Article Content:

Just seven states pay Rs100 under NREGA
The UPA had fixed the daily wage of workers under the Mahatma Gandhi
NREGA--which promises at least 100 days of work annually to one member of
every rural household--at Rs100 in January 2009
Ruhi Tewari
New Delhi: Only seven states pay average wages of Rs100 or more per day to
workers under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s flagship
rural welfare programme, despite the Congress party, which heads the
government, promising to make Rs100 every worker’s entitlement last year.

The UPA had fixed the daily wage of workers under the Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)—which promises at least 100
days of work annually to one member of every rural household—at Rs100 in
January 2009. Later, it also capped the NREGA wage at Rs100.

This meant states where minimum wages were below Rs100 could ask for more
funds from the Centre to pay NREGA wages, while states where the minimum
wages were higher than Rs100 would have to incur the additional costs

But only Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Mizoram, Punjab, Sikkim and
Tripura pay Rs100 or more, according to data made available by the rural
development ministry, the nodal point for NREGA, in response to a
parliamentary question earlier this month.

All others pay below Rs100. Indeed, in five states—Arunachal Pradesh,
Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and Manipur—the notified minimum wages are
themselves less than Rs100.

Maharashtra pays only Rs66-72, while Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu pay Rs70 and
Rs68, respectively. Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, which are widely lauded
for effective implementation of NREGA, pay Rs87 and Rs89, respectively.

Ministry officials said wage rates under the scheme vary nationwide, and are
often below Rs100 because payments are task-based.

“This is a piece-rate wage. Workers get wages depending on the amount of
work they do, the stipulation for which varies from state to state. Hence
the average wage paid under NREGA is different across the country,” said a
ministry official who did not want to be identified.

The official added that states where minimum wages were below Rs100 had not
asked for a revision, and hence they hadn’t been revised.

Experts blamed the minimum wage system for the discrepancy in wage payments.

“What cannot be done and which the rural development ministry has done is
putting a cap on the minimum wages,” said Nikhil Dey, founder member of the
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, a farmers’ group. “This is both illegal and
unconstitutional... Also, the wage rate under NREGA should be linked to the
consumer price index to keep into account rising prices.”

Dey said that piece-rate wages, which allowed states to pay workers less
than the minimum wage, was also an anomaly.

“This system is not meant for public works, but has been cross-applied to
them as well, which does not make sense since the system does not have the
ability to supervise. The worst thing that is happening is that instead of
measuring each individual’s work under the scheme and paying him based on
that, an average wage is being paid to everyone at the site.”

*ruhi.t at livemint.com*

More information about the reader-list mailing list