‘Unified MGNREGS wages needed’: Panel flags pay disparity in Centre's flagship rural employment scheme
Having a uniform rate will also be convenient in terms of calculations and indexation in one go for the entire country rather than different States/UTs bringing in their own dynamics, the report said
NEW DELHI: A parliamentary standing committee has flagged the disparity in wage rates in various states under the rural employment scheme MGNREGS, calling it baffling and unjustified.
While in states like Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand, the workers are paid daily wages less than Rs 200 for works under the Mahatma Gandhi national Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), they are paid nearly Rs 300 or more in states like Kerala, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Sikkim. As per government data, said Chhattisgarh has the minimum rate of Rs 193 while Sikkim has Rs 313.
“Time and again, the issue of disparity of wages under MGNREGA crops up before the committee. It finds the concept of wage rates under MGNREGA being different in the States/UTs quite baffling,” said the standing committee report, recently tabled in Parliament.
The Department of Rural Development is the nodal agency of the scheme in the entire country and it only seems befitting if it fixes a single unified wage rate applicable to all the States/UTs, the report stated, observing that “wage rates fluctuating from Rs 193 to Rs 318 across different States/UTs in no way seem justified”.
Having a uniform rate will also be convenient in terms of calculations and indexation in one go for the entire country rather than different States/UTs bringing in their own dynamics in fixing the wage rates, the panel said.
Since the beneficiaries targeted under MGNREGA are from the poor and marginalised sections of society, it’s “unfathomable” that relatively poorer states such as Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and West Bengal showed a notified wage rate of Rs 198, Rs 204, Rs 198 and Rs 213, respectively, it added.
Noting that bridging the wage disparity will end the uncertainty among beneficiaries and also serve the larger purpose of welfare of MGNREGA workers, the committee recommended that the Department of Rural Development to should devise a mechanism for notifying a unified wage rate across the country.
To compensate the MGNREGS workers against inflation, the Union Ministry of Rural Development revises the wage rates every year based on change in Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour.
The wage rate is applicable from April 1 every financial year.
‘Will help with calculations, indexation’
A uniform rate means convenience over calculations and indexation in one go for the entire country rather than different States/UTs bringing in their own dynamics in fixing the wage rates, the panel said.