Many workers in TS, AP unable to draw MGNREGS wages

Change of payment system makes disbursal difficult

Fifteen months after the transition of wage payment system under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), many workers in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are yet to be disbursed their wages due under the old system.

Faulty integration of the old and new systems of wage disbursement and apathy by the postal department are said to be the reasons for the non-payment of wages.

As per the data collated by ‘Upadhi Hamee Phone Radio’ team of Libtech India, a group of professionals studying the entitlements and delivery of services in the rural India, total wages pending under the old payment system till at least a year ago stood at ₹15.3 crore for 8 lakh workers in Telangana. In case of Andhra Pradesh, the dues account for ₹54 crore for 8.6 lakh workers.

In Telangana, the data pertains to 23 districts, where workers are still receiving wages into postal accounts, while the rest of the districts have transitioned to bank accounts. These funds have been deposited by the Centre into the special NREGS postal accounts for workers, but are yet to be disbursed by the postal department.

Even under the new National Fund Electronic Management System (NFEMS), the payments are due for over 90 days and amount to ₹33.6 crore for 4.78 lakh workers in Telangana, while the same for AP stands at ₹11.18 crore for 95,500 workers.

“Earlier, the branch postmaster would visit the villages and take the biometric authentication of the worker, before disbursing the amount. Now also the situation has not seen any change, as the last-mile disbursement has to be made by the postmasters. For the complications involved in switching over to old payment system on machines from the NFEMS, the postmasters are not venturing to disburse old dues. Instead, they are claiming that the workers were not approaching them,” says Chakradhar Buddha, the programme manager of the project, who along with his colleague Ranadheer Malla, collated the data.

Workers are mostly ignorant about the payments due to them unless told by someone.

“We found that in about 20% of the cases, the workers either passed away or had gone on long-term migration. In case of workers’ death his/her inheritors can claim the money but the awareness is too low and the process is too complex,” Mr. Chakradhar says.

Many times, biometric/Aadhaar authentication failures too are resulting in non-payment, and iris recognition technology is not available on the machines.

Workers are not receiving delay compensation as stipulated by the Act, as the wages are technically deposited in the accounts.

Mr. Chakradhar blames the communication breakdown between State governments and the Centre, due to which, workers are losing interest to continue in employment guarantee work.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 5:18:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/many-workers-in-ts-ap-unable-to-draw-mgnregs-wages/article23504931.ece

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