Skip to main content

Increase in NREGA wages just 1 or 2 rupees in some states, as Central allocation for rural job scheme declines

Protest by NREGA workers in Delhi on Sept 11
By Our Representative
In a shocking revelation on the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the apex body which represents organizations working on the rural job scheme, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, has said that NREGA budgets, which reached a peak of 0.6% in 2009-10 (as a proportion of GDP), declined steadily to 0.3% in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
This year (2017-18), the analysis, prepared by top development economist Jean Dreze, says that the "NREGA budget is grossly inadequate – while half of the financial year is left, 75 per cent of the funds allocated for this year has already been spent with no indication from the Ministry of Finance of any supplementary budget."
"The impact of underfunding is evident in the low level of NREGA employment generation: about 46 days per employed household over the past five years, or just 10-15 days per rural household", the analysis, based on official documents, says, adding, "During the same period, only about 8.5 per cent of all households that participated in NREGA were able to access 100 days of work."
Nominal wages vs real wages
Wanting the Government of India to allocate "as much budget as required to ensure that there is work on demand for all rural households, up to 100 days, without wage arrears", the analysis says, "NREGA wages have been held constant in real terms since 2009: the Central government is just raising them each year in line with the price level, that too based on an outdated price index (the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labourers, CPIAL)."
"In the last two years, NREGA wages have increased by as little as one rupee per day in some states. Further, NREGA wages are below state minimum wages in many states, a wholly illegal situation", the analysis points out, regretting, "In 2015, the Mahendra Dev committee advised re-setting NREGA wages in line with state minimum wages, but this recommendation was rejected by the Finance Ministry."
"More recently, the issue of NREGA wages was re-examined by another committee of the Ministry of Rural Development, chaired by its Additional Secretary. The committee recommends that NREGA wages should continue to be held constant in real terms, on the odd grounds that this is a 'scientific' approach! If this happens, the entire programme is likely to fade away as workers lose interest", the analysis reveals.
NREGA allocation as % of GDP 
"Even based on the Ministry’s incomplete method of calculation of wage delays, barely half of all NREGA wage payments were made on time (i.e. within 15 days) in the past five years", Dreze says, adding, of over 90 lakh wage payments made in 2016-17 in a random sample of 3,446 Gram Panchayats across ten states, "only 21 per cent of the wage payments were actually made on time."
"NREGA workers are entitled to compensation in the event of delayed wage payments, at the rate of 0.05% per day. Even this paltry compensation, however, is not paid", the analysis notes, adding, reasons include the Management Information System (MIS) calculates delays only up to the fund transfer order, reflecting slow bank payments", adding, worse, the block-level Programme Officers are authorized to “reject the compensation payments calculated by the MIS."
The analysis continues, "Illegal conditionalities are often attached to NREGA entitlements. Employment is made conditional on having an Aadhaar number, correctly seeded into one’s bank account. Last year, the Ministry briefly disallowed demand registration in the MIS for households whose photograph was not uploaded on their electronic Job Card. Under pressure to Swachh Bharat Mission targets, many officials even deny NREGA work to households without toilets."

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.