Skip to main content

Govt of India responsible for 71% delays in NREGA wage payments, say economists

Counterview Desk 

In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 70 economists have urged the Government of India to release “adequate funds” for implementing the rural jobs guarantee scheme under the MGNREGA immediately, pointing out that the pandemic continues to adversely affect the living condition of working families.
Noting that though 41 per cent more rural households sought work in 2020 compared to the previous year, the letter said, despite this, the funds allocation was cut by nearly 30 per cent. It added, “As per official data, the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) estimates that as of November 15, 2021 the programme was in deficit of Rs 10,000 crore.”

Text:

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has repeatedly proved to be a crucial lifeline for hundreds of millions of rural households. It has assumed more significance during the period of the pandemic. Even now, employment levels and wage incomes across the country remain significantly lower than before.
This affects the living conditions of working families as well as the wider potential for economic recovery, which remains constrained by the inadequate revival of mass consumption demand. In this context, we are writing to express our concern about the ongoing funds crunch facing the programme and to urge the central government to immediately release funds to states to continue with and expand the programme as needed.
It is unfortunate that despite seeing evidence of the critical security provided by MGNREGA during the first year of the pandemic with 41% more rural households seeking work in 2020 compared to the previous year, the fund allocation for the programme was cut by nearly 30%. Lack of funds results in suppression of demand for work and delayed payment of wages to workers. These are violations of the Act; they also constrain economic recovery.
Of the central budgetary allocation of Rs 73,000 crore for the programme for FY 2020-21, Rs 17,451 crores (nearly a quarter of the amount) would simply meet the pending liabilities of previous years. With more than four months remaining in this financial year, the estimated expenditure has already exceeded the budget allocation.
As per official data, the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) estimates that as of 15 November 2021 the programme was in deficit of Rs.10,000 crore. Over Rs 1,121 crore is due to the MGNREGA workers as wage payments. 24 states and Union Territories have negative balances, having spent more than they received from the central government for this. This implies that the state governments are in no position to implement the Act.
There is evidence of significant unmet demand. 13% of households that demanded work did not get work. This is a highly conservative estimate, as it does not include the massive extent of demand for work that is not even registered on the MGNREGA Management Information System (MIS) on account of shortage of funds. Unmet demand is as high as 20% in the states of Gujarat, Telangana and Bihar.
Without further increase in funds, the programme will also be unable to meet its promise of providing 100 days of work to every household that demands it: over 51 per cent of households employed under MGNREGA this year got work for 30 days or less, and less than 10 per cent were employed for more than 80 days.
As per a recent study by LibTech India of 1.8 million wage transactions across 10 states for the first half of this financial year, the central government alone is responsible for delays in transferring wages for 71% of the transactions. Moreover, in violation of the Supreme Court orders in the Swaraj Abhiyan vs Union of India case, the central government still does not compensate the workers for the delays it is causing in the payment of wages.
We therefore urge the central government to strengthen and expand the MGNREGA, by providing additional funds to meet the demand for work and to ensure that the programme functions as the law requires. Through its effects on mass demand, this will also contribute to recovery of the overall economy and micro and small enterprises that are currently facing extreme difficulties.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Palm oil industry deceptively using geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

'Fake encounter': 12 Adivasis killed being dubbed Maoists, says FACAM

Counterview Desk   The civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), even as condemn what it has called "fake encounter" of 12 Adivasi villagers in Gangaloor, has taken strong exception to they being presented by the authorities as Maoists.

Mired in controversy, India's polio jab programme 'led to suffering, misery'

By Vratesh Srivastava*  Following the 1988 World Health Assembly declaration to eradicate polio by the year 2000, to which India was a signatory, India ran intensive pulse polio immunization campaigns since 1995. After 19 years, in 2014, polio was declared officially eradicated in India. India was formally acknowledged by WHO as being free of polio.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9. 

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.