Kerala

MGNREGS wages delayed for SC workers

In yet another issue that has cropped up after the Union Government changed the wage payment method under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) last year, the wages for Scheduled Caste workers under the scheme have been delayed for the past two months in the State.

Although a similar issue had cropped up after the wage payments were split last year into three categories for SCs, STs, and others, and was later addressed, it has recurred causing difficulties for SC workers in most districts.

According to sources at the MGNREGS State Mission, issues led to the payments to SC workers not getting released.

“The labour budget is prepared each year based on the wage spendings in the previous year. So, after the split into three categories happened, fund allocations were made separately based on wage spendings in that specific category. However, when more work is awarded in the current year in any category, the fundings cease once the previous estimate is crossed. Earlier, when the wages were provided to everyone under a common category, such issues would not have cropped up. If funds are insufficient, it would affect everybody, rather than a specific category, as the SCs in this case,” said a source.

According to officials, there has been no direction from the Rural Development Ministry on how to proceed when such issues crop up due to the changes made last year.

Letter to Ministry

The State Mission had written to the Ministry last week citing the issue and submitted a revised labour budget for the SC category, but a reply is still awaited.

The wages can be released only when the revised budget is approved and the same is reflected in the Management Information System. All districts have now exhausted funds set aside for workers from the SC category.

Protests

When The Hindu contacted programme coordinators from various districts, they also confirmed that there have been protests by various unions at the panchayat and block levels over the issue in the past few days. When the Centre announced the new system of wage payment, several unions and workers’ rights organisations had said that the existing payment system, which was smoothly functioning, would be unnecessarily complicated due to the change.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 2:18:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/mgnregs-wages-delayed-for-sc-workers/article38321416.ece