Rural India in Distress as 57% of MNREGS labour wages are yet to be paid

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGS), that was launched to generate employment no longer shares the same agenda. 57% of wages due to workers were unpaid at the end of April 2018, as per government data.

The world’s largest job-guarantee programme, MGNREGS promises 100 days of unskilled work to villagers. However, wage payments have been routinely delayed, sometimes by several months, due to lack of funds, incorrect computation of compensation due or procedural delays.

As a proportion of the rural development ministry’s expenditure, too, MGNREGS spending is now the lowest in three years. In 2012-13, the share of MGNREGS was 55% of the ministry’s allocation. Since then, it has dropped seven percentage points to 48%.

Although the government claimed in an October 2017 that 85 percent of wages due to MGNREGS workers for the year 2017-18 until 15 September, 2017, were paid on time, an independent study has shown this is not true.

The compulsory linkage of Aadhaar, the 12-digit unique identity number, to the bank accounts of MGNREGS workers has also created problems. If Aadhaar numbers are linked with incorrect bank accounts, wage payments can get credited incorrectly.

Launched in 2006, MGNREGS, the world’s largest rural jobs programme, guarantees 100 days of unskilled work to rural Indians. It has 110 million active workers, and the wages it pays are an important source of income in Indian villages at a time when the farm sector is in crisis, more villagers are working as farm labour than as cultivators, and non-farm jobs are not enough to accommodate the large number of people entering the labour force.

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