High Wage Rates in Rural Areas due to MGNREGA

New Delhi: Women and unskilled labourers are the main beneficiaries of the higher wage rates of MGNREGA, which has been revised recently to protect workers against inflation. With effect from April 01, 2013, a maximum wage of Rs 214 has been fixed for Haryana and a minimum of Rs 135 for North Eastern States. Moreover, there is a definite positive impact on agricultural wages and wages in general in the rural areas, which remained stagnant for a long-long time. This has been established by a Government study and research by private bodies and individuals. The National Sample Survey Office`s 66th round confirms that MGNREGA has reduced the traditional gender wage discrimination which was apparent in several States across the country. According to an analysis by the Paris School of Economics in 2011, MGNREGA also leads to an increase in private sector wages and has welfare benefits for non-participating households. The gains from the rise in wages are more for the poor and marginalised, including women. Similarly, an analysis by Jean Drèze, a noted social scientist observes that the pre-MGNREGA (2000–1 to 2005-6) growth rate of real agricultural wages was around 0.1 per cent per year for men and negative for women. After the implementation of MGNREGA (2005-6 to 2010-11), the growth rate for agricultural wages for men increased to 2.7 per cent per year and for women to 3.7 per cent per year.

Till 31st March 2013, more than 1408 crore person-days of employment have been generated, of which 47.48% are women. An average of five crore households provided with employment every year since 2008. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes account for 50% of the total person-days generated. Last year 30 new works included under MGNREGA like Watershed, Irrigation and Flood management works, Agricultural and Livestock related works, Fisheries, Rural Drinking water and Sanitation related works.

To reduce delay in payment of wages, Ministry of Rural Development has initiated Electronic Fund Management System (eFMS) in Karnataka, Orissa, Gujarat, Tripura and Rajasthan, for directly crediting wages into beneficiary accounts using Core Banking System. Efms will ensure capture of real time transactions, eliminate delays and leakages. Ministry is now working to implement Efms in identified 46 MGNREGA districts for Direct Benefit Transfer. Aadhaar enabled direct electronics crediting of accounts payments for workers in MGNREGA is being implemented in 51 districts, in its pilot phase.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The Act came into force in February 2, 2006 and now is in operation in 632 districts in the country.

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