Skip to main content

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk 

A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Claiming to echo demands of crores of NREGA workers, the letter states, at at time when there is a sharp rise in rural unemployment, “MGNREGA as an entitlement for people’s right to work with dignity and social protection must be strengthened”.

Text:

The COVID 19 pandemic continues to be a serious public health issue with devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of workers, especially informal sector, daily wage workers.
With ever increasing rate of unemployment as per the report of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, in August 2021 it is at 8.32 per cent, and 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 as compared to the revised estimate of the year 2020-21 is adding further woes on rural populations for survival and employment. The huge inflation in the past two years also means that in real terms the wages in MGNREGA remain paltry and insufficient.
In such trying times, the spirit of MGNREGA as an entitlement for people’s right to work with dignity and social protection must be strengthened. It is important that the MGNREGA is envisioned as a gender-responsive program for recovery from economic crisis with much needed reforms in the implementation mechanism and provisions over and above all existing entitlements in the MGNREGA.
The Management Information System of Government of India shows that over 70 percent of the total household provided employment in the year 2020-21 have already been provided employment in the last six months.
The mandate of the MGNREGA should be expanded as guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural adult member who seeks to do unskilled manual work. This will increase scope for rural unemployed labour to engage in productive resource building activity with protection of workers right to work with dignity, wages and social security, especially in the areas where there is forced migration for survival and livelihoods.
The NREGA Sangharsh Morcha therefore demands:
  • The Government of India should notify a wage rate of Rs.600/day for NREGA workers as per recommendations of the 7th Pay commission which will allow dignified living for 15cr households who are registered under NREGA. A respectable increase in wages of MGNREGA workers has become urgent keeping in mind the huge inflation in the prices of food and all consumer goods.
  • The Government of India should notify allocation of 150 days of wage work annually for each job card holding individual. Keeping with this demand, allocate necessary budget for employment of 29 crore job card registered workers.
  • The Section 3 of the MGNREGA laid down that the wages shall be paid within 15 days of the closure of the Muster Roll. However, there are delays in payment of wages. With non-implementation of the detailed guidelines for the compensation of the delayed payments as per the Para 29 of the Section II of the MGNREGA. It has been also observed that there has been significant delays in payments of wages from the central government and in a pandemic year where rural citizens are cash strapped, lost their earnings and became more indebtedness as a result , these delays in releasing wages are unacceptable. We strongly demand that the central government simplifies it’s payments process and ensure on-time payments of wages in a decentralized manner. Also, all the back wages of MGNREGA workers across the states be paid as per the guidelines for the delayed payment and the Supreme Court orders in the Swaraj Abhiyan v Union of India case.
  • All members of NREGA job card holding families should be brought under the Employment State Insurance Act as a social protection measure of all MGNREGA workers.
  • Each worksite should follow Covid protocol with all required provisions such as face mask, facility for hand wash and / or sanitizers, drinking water, shed for rest and medical assistance.
  • The rationale for trifurcation of FTO based on the caste categories of workers is unclear and is causing unnecessary tension among workers. This is also at odds with the universal nature of the Act. The caste-based trifurcation of FTO needs to be revoked.
We trust that you would appreciate the need for such amendments in the policy as millions of rural households across all states in India struggle for their life and work. We sincerely hope that the Govt of India will make much awaited provisions at such a critical juncture.

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

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.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara 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".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.