Thousands of NREGA workers, who have been waiting for the payment of their outstanding unemployment allowances guaranteed under the Act, may not get them as their entitlements cannot be established.

A high level government panel has found that the applications for demand of work submitted by NREGA workers under the Act were not “documented or dated”, and the dated receipts for such applications were not issued “in most cases“.

“As a result the eligibility of rural households for unemployment allowance, in these cases, was unverifiable...in the absence of recorded date of demand, the entitlement to unemployment allowances could not be easily established,” Public Accounts Committee on the implementation of NREGA for the fiscal 2009-10 said in its report, recently tabled in Parliament.

As per Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, the State government is required to provide employment to a registered applicant within 15 days of demand, failing which unemployment allowance at “stipulated rates” is payable by the State governments from their fund, the Committee noted.

The Act stipulates that the rate of the allowance has to be fixed by state governments in consultation with State Councils. But, it should not be less than one-fourth of the wages for the first 30 days of unemployment and half of the wages beyond this.

“However, audit review has revealed that in 282 gram panchayats in 21 States, dated receipt of applications for demand for work were not given, and employment registers were not maintained in 329 gram panchayats in 19 States,” it said.

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