Nagaland is the only state where the wage rate is equal to or more than their minimum wage
The Centre was already under fire for a low wage hike under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA), and now an analysis has revealed that these wages are less than even the minimum wage in 33 states and Union territories (UTs).
The hike, which ranges from Re 1 to Rs 17, didn’t figure against the names of six states and UTs. The average wage rate increase is 2.6 per cent.
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a national platform of workers’ collectives, union, organisations and individuals engaged in public action on the scheme, found that for 33 states and UTs, the NREGA wage rate is less than their minimum wage for agriculture.
Goa sees the biggest gap as the increased MNREGA wage is only 62 per cent of the state minimum wage for agriculture. Several other states, like Bihar, Gujarat and Odisha, fall in the 60-70 per cent range. Nagaland is the only state where workers’ wages under MNREGA will be equal to or more than their minimum wage.
“A report by Anoop Sathpathy Committee recommended that the minimum wage should be fixed at Rs 375. And, several other Centre-appointed committees have said the wages should be linked to Consumer Price Index (rural) instead of the outdated CPI (agriculture labour). The government just doesn't seem to be implementing these recommendations," said Debmalya Nandy from NREGA Sangharsh Morcha.
|Sl No||Name of state||NREGA wage rate in 2018-19 (Rs.)||Current Agricultural minimum wage rate||NREGA wage rate in 2019-20 (Rs.)||Increase in NREGA wage rate||Absolute difference between NREGA wage rate and agriculture minimum wage||What proportion of the minimum wage is the NREGA wage (%)|
|10||Jammu and Kashmir||186||225||189||3||36||84.00|
|30||Andaman and Nicobar||250||451||250||0||201||44.57|
|32||Dadra and Nagar Haveli||220||294||224||4||70||76.19|
|33||Daman and Diu||197||294||202||5||92||68.71|
According to media reports, workers are already struggling with delay in payment of wages. In the last few years, they have taken to streets several times to demand an increase in wage rate. Jharkhand’s workers even returned the Rs 5 hike in 2016-17 and Re 1 hike the following year.
“This wage hike seems like the Centre is deliberately undermining the employment programme. There's no way the MNREGA wages should be less than minimum wages,” added Nandy.
Now, the workers are demanding that MNREGA wage rate be increased to Rs 600 a day.
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