1,500 workers hired under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) submitted a petition to Collector M. Karunakaran yesterday, demanding immediate disbursal of their wage arrears pending for five months, The Hindu reports.
The petitioners also staged demonstration at the Collectorate premises for a while to highlight their demand, stating their families were in a piquant situation due to non-disbursement of wages, and demanded immediate disbursal to meet their needs.
Balusamy, who led the petitioners said, the number of working days under MGNREGS should be increased to 200 days a year and the wages per day should be hiked to Rs. 400. Further the scheme should be extended to town Panchayat areas, while demanding Rs. 15000 per family as drought relief.
The free rice of 20 kg given under the public distribution system should be increased to 30 kg a month, at least for the next six months.
Across the country, payments worth Rs 9,124 crore are yet to be paid for work done in the 2016-17 financial year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Times of India reports. This comes at a time when the Modi Government has created incentive schemes rewarding those using the digital payment platform.
Material suppliers under MGNREGA are owed bulk of pending payments, 63 percent, according to the MGNREGA website accessed on April 16; 35 percent is owed to workers as wages; the remaining 2 percent is for administrative expenses.
Even as the scheme aims to provide an alternate source of income for rural people with positive trends in some key areas, the issue of delay in payment remains unresolved. Only 47.5% workers received their wages within 15 days of work in the financial year that ended on March 31.
The most important reason for the delay in payments of these wage workers are failure by the government to complete tasks required such as generation of wage-lists and Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs).
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Some FTOs were rejected for technical errors, for instance wrong entry of workers’/vendors’ account details in the MGNREGA Management Information System (MIS). Some FTOs were not processed by the Public Finance Management System (PFMS), an online application of the Centre through which several social security payments are now routed.
Only 4% of the compensation for delayed wages of 2016-17 has been approved so far. Besides, in violation of the Act, compensation is not even calculated for delays in wage payments that take place after the signing of the FTO. From March 23, 2017 less than 1% of all FTOs generated across the country have been processed by the PFMS.
What is even more significant is that FTOs have not been generated in Kerala, Maharashtra, Puducherry, Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand for the past few days, the reason being stated as “hardware failure”. This means that compensation of wages for workers covered under the Act will be further delayed , given the Centre’s incomplete method of calculation.
While some other sources attribute reasons for delay in payments, to wages being directly transferred to a worker’s bank account seeded to his or her Aadhaar number. The delay in payment comes amid the government’s overall thrust to expand the scope of Aadhaar in daily lives.
As timely payment of extra income for the rurals continues to remain an area of sore concern, the job guarantee programme has been able to spend 68% of its money on agriculture and related activities. The latest statistics also reveal that women comprise 56% of MGNREGA workers.
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Image credit: mgnrega.co.in