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MGNREGA: States object to penalty for delay in paying wages

MGNREGA promises 100 days of work each year to every rural household.

Written by Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi |
November 9, 2013 12:28:12 am

More problems seem to have emerged in the implementation of the government’s flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) with states expressing concerns about the feasibility of some recent changes made by the government and sufficiency of infrastructure to pay timely wages.

In a meeting of state Rural Development secretaries on “improvements in MGNREGS” held on October 29,states expressed reservations about several guidelines laid down by the Centre.

MGNREGA promises 100 days of work each year to every rural household. The Act stipulates that wage payments have to be made within 15 days to the beneficiary. However,complaints of delayed wage payments have been rampant since the scheme was implemented in February 2006. To address the issue,the Rural Development Ministry had said in September that beneficiarfies would be compensated in case of delays and the functionaries or agencies responsible would have to pay the compensation and had accordingly amended the Act.

States have,however,said the “existing infrastructure is not sufficient to ensure payment in 15 days”. They say the move to recover compensation for delayed wages from functionaries can lead to increased attrition of personnel,thus “derailing the implementation of the scheme”. They also believe the quantum of compensation may be “too steep” to be recovered from the functionaries and it may not always be fair to penalise them. The ministry,however,said implementing the modifications is “statutory” and that states should look for ways to operationalise the system.

The states also said the decision to include construction of “intermediate godowns” as permissible activity to facilitate the implementation of the National Food Security Act may not be “viable” though the work is “necessary” because the amount of Rs 3,000 per metric tonnes as estimated may be far less than required.

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