Among other things, Govt. should pay MGNREGA wages without delay, says letter to the FM from activists
Protesting social activists at Jantar Mantar (Delhi), who are fighting for better working conditions of MGNREGA workers, have recently shot off two demand letters – one addressed to the Finance Minister of India and the other to the Secretary of Department of Rural Development at the MoRD.
The letter addressed to the Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, dated 13 September, 2017, has been signed by eminent activists including Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, D Raja and others. In that letter, among other things, civil society activists have demanded that the MGNREGA workers should receive their wages within 15 days from the date of closure of muster rolls, along with the provision of automatic compensation for delay in wage payments. The compensation norm for delayed payments should be raised from 0.05 percent of the unpaid wages per day of delay (beyond the 16th day of closure of muster roll) to 0.5 percent of the unpaid wages per day of delay, says that letter.
Please click here to access the letter written by civil society activists to the Finance Minister, dated 13 September, 2017.
It should be noted that in a recent reply to questions from the Members of Parliament Smt. Butta Renuka and Shri Prataprao Jadhav at the Lok Sabha, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) Shri Ram Kripal Yadav said that in the current financial year 2017-18 (as on 20 July, 2017), out of the total payments, 15.63 percent payments were delayed beyond 15 days of closure of muster roll. The delay in wage payments has been reduced significantly from 74.25 percent in 2014-15 to 15.63 percent in 2017-18, said the minister. He added that the causes behind the delay in payment of wages were implementation issues in the states, which include inadequate staffing, non-timely recording and reporting of attendance, measurement, data entry, generation of wage list and Fund Transfer Order (FTO) etc. Please click here to access the reply from Shri Ram Kripal Yadav on 10 August, 2017 to the unstarred question no. 4045.
A young NREGA activist from West Bengal at Jantar Mantar
In the other letter addressed to the Secretary of Department of Rural Development (at MoRD) Shri Amarjeet Sinha, dated 14 September, 2017, among other things, civil society activists have demanded that adequate budget should be allocated so that work demands made at the Gram Sabha level is fulfilled. In that letter it is mentioned that the budgetary allocation of the Union government for MGNREGA has been decreasing in real terms since 2010-11, and has also been decreasing as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In the letter, activists have demanded that instead of accepting the suggestions made by the Nagesh Singh Committee to delink MGNREGA wages from the statutory minimum wage of states, the recommendations of the expert committee constituted under Prof. Mahendra Dev should be implemented by the government. It needs to be mentioned here that the seven-member expert committee, headed by Prof. Mahendra Dev, had earlier recommended that MGNREGA workers should be paid at least the minimum wages, which is given to agricultural workers at the state-level.
The letter to the Secretary also asks for immediate setting up of independent Social Audit Units, adequately financed directly by the MoRD, in all states, as laid down in the Audit of Scheme Rules, 2011 and Auditing Standards of Social Audit, 2016.
Please click here to access the letter written by social activists to the Secretary of Department of Rural Development at the MoRD, dated 14 September, 2017.
It should be noted that a five-day MGNREGA dharna since 11 September, 2017 has been organized at Jantar Mantar (New Delhi), under the banner of NREGA Sangharsh Morcha. The MGNREGA workers gathered in that dharna have been agitating against the long delays in wage payments, stagnation of wages, routine violations of workers’ legal rights etc., among other things. They are also demanding for a stricter implementation of the MGNREG Act and also for expansion of their rights-based entitlements.
Non-payment of Due MGNREGA Wages Recurred In 2016-17, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change, dated 17 April, 2017, please click here to access
Jharkhand NREGA Workers Unpaid Due To Govt. Mismanagement & Apathy, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change, dated 24 August, 2016, please click here to access
NREGA giving only 46 of 100-day work: Workers' alliance, The Indian Express, 12 September, 2017, please click here to access
Modi Government Gives Shock Treatment To Social Policy -Jean Dreze, NDTV, 11 September, 2017, please click here to access
MGNREGA Scheme: Women paid less than men, says Centre panel, The Financial Express, 11 September, 2017, please click here to access
‘Centralisation, focus on tech undermining MGNREGA’, The Hindu Business Line, 11 September, 2017, please click here to access
Central panel says states do not need to hike NREG pay to match minimum wage -Shalini Nair, The Indian Express, 1 September, 2017, please click here to access
Image Courtesy: Inclusive Media for Change/ Shambhu Ghatak