Despite implementation of NREGS, migration of labourers from rural areas to other states in search of livelihood has increased manifold.
While more that 30 million people of the country are seasonal migrant labourers, Odisha’s share is about 25 lakh. CPM State secretary Janardan Pati attributed the large-scale migration to low wages.
“The minimum wage for unskilled labour in the State is Rs 92.50 per day while Delhi and Chandigarh governments are paying the highest wage of Rs 256 and Rs 234 per day respectively,” Pati said.
Even states like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have enhanced the minimum wage for unskilled workers to Rs 165 and Rs 145 per day respectively. The neighbouring West Bengal has increased the minimum wage to Rs 179 per day while daily wage in Kerala is Rs 179, Rs 183 in Madhya Pradesh and Rs 219 in Maharashtra.
Alleging that the daily wages paid to workers in some parts of the southern districts, including Nuapada and Nabarangpur, are less than the minimum wage announced by the State Government, Pati said reports received from the two districts said the stipulated wage is not paid to workers under NREGS. Disputing the general perception that the Rs 2-a-kg rice scheme of the Government has an adverse impact on the labour force, Pati said had it been the case, people in large number should not have migrated to far off places like Kerala in search of jobs. The wage paid there is almost double the wage in Odisha.
Pati in recent letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanded an increase in the minimum wage for unskilled workers to Rs 334 per day (Rs 10,000 per month) keeping in view the high cost of living due to spiralling prices of essential commodities. Meanwhile, 11 Central trade unions have made a similar demand before the Centre, he said.
He justified the demand for more wage for the workers as salaries of State and Central Government employees have been revised as per the recommendation of the Sixth Pay Commission, and MPs and MLAs are getting enhanced salary.
Besides, the report, published by the National Sample Survey (NSS) after its 68th round of survey, has some disturbing facts that the daily earning of 10 per cent of the poorest people of the State is only Rs 17 while the number of billionaires is increasing.