New Delhi: To ensure timely payment of wages to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, or MGNREGA, the ministry of rural development has suggested a timeline to state governments to reduce administrative delays.
The Act, which guarantees 100 days of manual work every year to each rural household, stipulates that workers be paid wages on a weekly basis and not later than a fortnight after the work was done.
In a circular dated 25 June, the ministry, which oversees the scheme, has said that delays in wage payments to workers under the employment guarantee scheme has caused them “undue hardships” and has “violated” the provisions of the Act. To address this, it has recommended a schedule to be followed by states to ensure payment of wages within a fortnight.
Under the proposed schedule, muster rolls must be closed on the sixth day after the start of work. Pay orders should be generated on the ninth and 10th days. These pay orders should be submitted at the block post office or bank, and wage slips generated on the 11th and 12th days, and the wages should be deposited in the accounts of the workers on the 13th day.
The ministry has asked states to send suggestions for “streamlining the administrative procedure” to ensure timely wage payments so “the objective of the Act to enhance the livelihood security of rural households is not defeated”.
Sweat equity: Villagers in Govindpura in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan build a road under the rural employment guarantee scheme. Madhu Kapparath/Mint
“States are urged to review the reasons for administrative delays in wage payments and take immediate steps for remedying them,” it says in the circular.
The ministry’s move comes after several audits and monitoring processes found inordinate delays in paying wages to the workers.
Timely payment under this social security scheme is crucial for beneficiaries, especially now as India’s benchmark inflation has risen to 10.16% in May on the back of soaring food prices.
MGNREGA, the flagship employment programme of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, has been credited with helping the alliance return to power in the 2009 Lok Sabha election.
Since the scheme was launched in 2006, it has provided employment to 10 million households, generating 243.6 million person-days of employment. It is the single largest social sector spending for the government with a budget allocation of Rs40,100 crore.