Over 1500 workers of several villages of the Badwani district have alleged delay in payment of wages under the MNREGA and have demanded immediate payment of the same.
The workers, sitting on a demonstration for the last four days, have alleged that the district administration has disbursed wages through an arbitrary methodology, bypassing the operational guidelines of the Act.
The guidelines state that every person working under the MNREGS shall be entitled to wages at the minimum wage rate fixed by the State Government (or the competent authority concerned) and that labourers shall not be paid less than the minimum wage under any circumstances.
It further states that wages can be paid either on a time-rate basis or a piece-rate basis. In case of the former, the supervisory authorities will be responsible for ensuring that productivity norms are met and ensure that all workers are paid the daily minimum wage.
In case of the latter, the guidelines state that the work must be of such a nature that each labourer’s work can be individually measured and measurements must be recorded in a transparent manner whereby individuals may verify their measurements on a daily basis.
“The district administration has devised its own method for disbursement of wages,” says Madhuri Krishnaswamy of Jaagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, who is leading the demonstration.
“They have valuated the work and divided that by the muster roll. This has resulted in extremely low daily wages, as low as Rs.26, being disbursed to workers,” she said.
The administration, however, has refuted these allegations.
“There has been no delay. All payments have been made out and the amount has been deposited in the respective bank accounts of the workers,” says Badwani collector N.B.S. Rajput.
“Now if they do not with draw this amount, what can we do? The workers are demanding wages based on attendance and not on the basis of work done,” he says.
However, the demonstrating workers argue that the district administration should have allotted a fixed task to every worker and made sure that it was completed in time. They also complained that the valuation of the works has not been carried out in a transparent manner.