Skip to main content

GoI 'violating' NREG Act, unpaid wage dues to reach Rs 21,000 crore by March 2022

Percent of initial NREGA budget spent in clearing past dues
By Our Representative 
A civil rights group, Peoples' Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), in a report ahead of the budget for financial year (FY) 2022-23 has said that though the destructive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on health has impacted the poor most, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) has acted as a crucial shock absorber for the rural poor, the implementation of the Act is dogged by poor budgetary allocation and delayed wage payments.
“For instance, persondays generated increased by 46% in FY 2020-21, compared to the previous FY or financial year”, it says adding, “The persondays generated this FY till December 2021 have already exceeded FY 2019-20’s total persondays by 10%. In fact, the true demand is even higher than the nationally reported demand, the reasons for which are explained in an earlier PAEG tracker.”
Stating that “the FY 2020-21 ended up with unpaid dues of over Rs 17,000 crore despite an allocation of Rs 40,000 crore in addition to the original allocation of Rs 61,500 crore”, the report says, this is one reason why PAEG and the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha recommended a budget allocation of at least Rs 1.5 lakh crore for FY 21-22 to honour the demand driven nature of the Act.”
“However”, it regrets “Despite persistent need for work, the government allocated only Rs. 73,000 crore, 26% of which corresponded to previous years’ dues. Within the first half of FY 2021-22, NREGA coffers had become empty. PAEG’s half-yearly tracker showed that many states had a negative balance.”
Pointing out that “this prompted the government to allocate an additional Rs 25,000 crore in December 2021”, the report says, “However, official data as of January 24, 2022, shows that only Rs 7,114 crore of those Rs 25,000 crore has been released. 
So far, less than 5% of households employed have completed 100 days of work in the current FY”, while the official data suggest that “the number of households who have worked in this FY is 6.69 crore, whereas only 29 lakh households have completed 100 days of wage employment as of January 25, 2022.”
On an average, the report says, “Over the past five years, 20% of the budget has gone into clearing the arrears of previous years. The unpaid dues this year are already at Rs 12,494 crore. Assuming the expenditure trend so far in this FY continues, we estimate that over Rs 21,000 crore would be pending at the end of FY 2021-22.”
The the report notes, the MGNREG Act states in Chapter III, Paragraph 6, Section 2, “that wages must be at least as much as the minimum agricultural wage for each state. In our estimation, we take the minimum agricultural wages announced by the various state governments as given in Aggarwal & Paikra (2020) and adjust them by 5% for inflation in every successive FY. Using the number of active job cards in each state as weights, we estimate that the national average minimum wage rate is Rs 269.”
Taking Rs 269 as the wage rate, the report estimates that “the minimum budget for FY 2022-23 must be Rs 2.64 lakh crore, to provide legally guaranteed 100 days of work per household for at least those that worked in the current FY”, insisting, “This is a conservative estimate that considers only households that were employed this year – a mere 67.34% of the total active job cards as on January 24, 2022 – at the estimated minimum wage rate.”
Pointing towards “delays in wage payments”, which have persisted in NREGA for many years now, “and are a consequence of inadequate funds allocation as acknowledged by the Ministry of Finance itself”, and even “the Act stipulates that wages must be credited to the workers’ accounts within 15 days of completion of work”, the report says. 
Yet, the Government of India (GoI) “continues to violate the Act” as also Supreme Court orders “by not paying wages on time and not paying the corresponding delay compensation as mandated by the Act.”
Stating that “the delay compensation is rarely paid”, the report says, “Only 1.69% of payable compensation has been paid this year.” In fact, “This FY, the Centre took longer than the stipulated 7-day period to process 50.2% of wages – although we don’t know the extent of the delay.”
“Currently, 13% of transactions are pending, amounting to more than Rs 7,047 crore. Not paying wages on time is akin to forced labour and violates several fundamental rights of crores of workers”, it insists.



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

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. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

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".

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.