On Tuesday, The Indian Express reported that wages being paid under NREGA have fallen below the minimum wage in most of the 35 states and Union Territories for which figures were analysed. One exception is Nagaland, which pays 17% over the Centre-notified minimum, while the NREGA wage paid by Chandigarh in 2019-20 has not been listed by NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, which has compiled these comparative figures. These take into account an annual hike of 2.16% in the minimum wage for 2019-20, which was effected by the Centre last week.
While Nagaland’s NREGA wage of Rs 192/day exceeds the centrally notified minimum of Rs 115, Manipur and Meghalaya pay more than 90% of the minimum for their respective states. So do Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Karnataka.
Uttar Pradesh, however, pays among the lowest NREGA wages at Rs 182/day (which is 95% of the notified Rs 192). In terms of actual wages paid, UP ties with Uttarakhand at fourth-lowest place. Bihar and Chhattisgarh pay the least at Rs 171 each, while Chhattisgarh pays Rs 176.
While Goa’s NREGA wage represents the lowest proportion of the minimum wage (62%) for any state, its notified wage is the highest at Rs 409/day, and the wage it actually pays (Rs 254) is among the top three in the country. Among the states, only Haryana (Rs 339) and Kerala (Rs 287) pay more than Goa, which is followed by Karnataka (Rs 249) and Tamil Nadu (Rs 229). When the UTs are included, Lakshadweep (Rs 401 minimum, Rs 248 paid) comes close to Goa.
Besides Goa, other states that pay less than 70% of the notified wages are Tripura, Gujarat and Sikkim (64% each); Odisha (67%), Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (68% each); and Bihar and Uttarakhand (just under 70% each). The lowest ratio, however, is in a UT — Andaman & Nicobar pays less than 45% of the minimum notified for it. Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Daman & Diu too pay below 70%.
Source: NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (minimum wage); Ministry of Rural Development (NREGA wage, 2019-20).