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Aruna Roy to Sonia: Link NREGS,minimum wages

National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy has sought UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s intervention in implementing the Karnataka High Court ruling

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
October 9, 2011 2:55:07 am

National Advisory Council (NAC) member Aruna Roy has sought UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s intervention in implementing the Karnataka High Court ruling — that the wages under the NREGS cannot be less than the minimum wages prevailing in the area — across the country.

Roy has termed the delinking of the wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme from the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act as a “more blatant instance of insensitivity” than the Planning Commission’s affidavit in the Supreme Court defending the poverty line.

“The Government of India’s stand on this issue is legally and politically untenable. Violating the established Constitutional rights of poor workers through the non-payment of Minimum Wages on NREGA works is an even more blatant instance of insensitivity to the rights of the poor,” Roy,along with Central Employment Guarantee Council member Nikhil Dey,has written to Sonia.

“It is imperative that this matter now be reviewed and the Karnataka High Court judgment be implemented across the country.”

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As Ministries of Rural Development and Finance have expressed concerns in the past in this regard,the activists have suggested ways of reconciling the provisions of NREGA with the Minimum Wages Act

“The main concern of the government has been the possibility of arbitrary hikes by state governments in their minimum wage,which would then have to be paid by the Centre for NREGA works,” the activists have written.

“The Government of India could notify MGNREGA as a scheduled employment under the Central Schedule of the Minimum Wages Act. Wage rates of each state could be fixed through a tripartite consultative process involving the Centre,states and workers to ensure that the state governments did not arbitrarily raise the Minimum Wage rates and yet the workers right to Minimum Wages would be guaranteed,” both have suggested.

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