In yet another indication of growing proximity between the Congress and the JD(U),the Centre offered to sympathetically consider Bihars demand for bringing parity between MNREGA wage and minimum wage rates in the state. I can perfectly understand Nitish Kumars sentiments and concerns. I sympathise with Nitish Kumar,because under the Minimum Wages Act in Bihar,the minimum wage is Rs 162 and the MNREGA wage is Rs 138, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
Kumar had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week requesting him to advise the Rural Development Ministry to take appropriate measures for ensuring MNREGA wages as per the wage rate notified by the state government under section 3 of the Minimum Wages Act,1948 and allocate resources to meet the total expenditure on wages.
Noting that MNREGA wage is lower than the minimum wage rate in many states,including Andhra Pradesh,Bihar,Jharkhand,Kerala,Madhya Pradesh,West Bengal,Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram,Ramesh said amending Section 6 (1) of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is the only permanent solution to address this issue.
The formulation suggested by Ramesh to amend the Section 6 (1) of MNREGA underlines a five-year baseline for fixing wage rate under rural job guarantee scheme and the minimum wage for unskilled agricultural workers.