Centre owes ₹6,366 crore in MGNREGA wages to 18 States and Union Territories

The Union Ministry of Rural Development owes another ₹6,266 crore under the material component of the scheme

Updated - August 02, 2023 08:06 am IST

Published - August 01, 2023 09:14 pm IST - New Delhi

The MGNREGA states that the disbursement of daily wages shall be made on a weekly basis or in any case not later than a fortnight.

The MGNREGA states that the disbursement of daily wages shall be made on a weekly basis or in any case not later than a fortnight. | Photo Credit: B. Velankanni Raj

The Union Ministry of Rural Development informed Parliament on Tuesday that it owes ₹6,366 crore under the wage component of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to States.

There are a total of 14.42 crore active MGNREGS workers, most of whom are women, dependent on the wages to supplement their family’s income. Of the total sum, ₹2,770 crore is owed to West Bengal alone. Invoking Section 27 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the Centre has blocked payment of over ₹7,500 crore to West Bengal for “non-compliance of directives of the Central government” since December 2021.

These statistics were revealed in a question posed by the Congress’ Lok Sabha member Ramya Haridas, who also asked the Centre to reveal how many beneficiaries were owed wages for more than five months now. The government replied that, barring West Bengal, there is no pendency for more than five months in wage disbursal for any MGNREGS worker.

After West Bengal, the highest amount of funds for wages are owed to Congress-ruled Rajasthan, a total of ₹979 crore. Bihar, which is ruled by the JD(U)-RJD coalition, is owed ₹669 crore. The Centre has pending payments under the wage component for a total of 18 States and Union Territories.

Section 3(3) of the MGNREGA clearly states that “the disbursement of daily wages shall be made on a weekly basis or in any case not later than a fortnight after the date on which such work was done.”

Explained | The funding and demand for MGNREGA

The Centre also has a liability of ₹6,266 crore in the material component to 30 States and Union Territories. It bears 60% of the cost of the materials used for MGNREGS work and the remaining 40% is provided by the State governments. The delay in the material component has a domino impact, affecting future projects. When there are continuous delays in the material component payout, the local vendors who supply raw materials become reluctant to supply goods, thereby breaking the work cycle.

As far as material component payments are concerned, the Centre owes ₹2,813 crore to West Bengal, followed by ₹777 crore to Uttar Pradesh and ₹634 crore to Karnataka.

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