The Supreme Courts observation asking the Congress-led UPA to align the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act wages with minimum wages of the state,has been welcomed by the Shiromani Akali Dal which has been demanding the measure.
A SAD spokesman said the issue had been raised by Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal twice in Parliament besides Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal meeting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh seeking this parity.
The issue gained prominence after Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her election rally at Kapurthala accused the Punjab Government of not spending Rs 5000 crore given by the Centre to the state under the MNREGA. Chief Minister Parkash Badal was quick to retort by stating the MNREGA wages in Punjab were even less than the wages in Haryana and the minimum wages in the state.
The SAD spokesman said Punjab is allowed to give Rs 143 per day as MNREGA wages where as it is Rs 179 in neighbouring Haryana. The minimum wage in Punjab for skilled workers is Rs 199.52 where as for unskilled labour it is Rs 154.40.
Our party has always been advocating aligning MNREGA wages with minimum wages of the state and this now even the apex court has told the Centre, said Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema,secretary and spokesman of SAD.