Wages for unskilled workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA) have been increased again by nominal levels by the Centre from April 1, despite demands from many states for a major increase in the wages to attract workers under the key scheme.
Tamil Nadu, Goa and Karnataka have got the maximum increase of almost 10% in the daily wages under MNREGA. States with the least increase include the poll-bound states of West Bengal, Rs 2 jump to Rs 176, and Assam which has seen a mere Rs 3 increase to Rs 182. The rural development ministry passed orders for the same on March 23 and the hike will come into effect from April 1. "Compared with 2015-16, there is overall 5.71% enhancement in MNREGA wages," a ministry spokesperson said.
Rural Develpoment Minister Birender Singh said in January that he had submitted a Rs 2,000 crore-proposal to the finance ministry recommending MNREGA wages be made on par with existing minimum wage for unskilled farm labourers in different state. This is a long-standing demand of states who say linking an annual revision in MNREGA wages to Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labourer (CPIAL), as done this time too, was inadequate as the wages were unattractive.
As per the revised wages from April 1, an unskilled worker in Tamil Nadu will get Rs 183 against Rs 163 now. Haryana labourers will get maximum wages for any state at Rs 259, an increase of Rs 8 while Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have got a Rs 5 and Rs 13 hike, respectively, taking the wages to Rs 167 and Rs 174.
Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal wrote to Birender Singh last year that existing MNREGA rate in Punjab, Rs 210, was insufficient to draw workers and proposed that it be hiked to Rs 300. But Punjab has only got a Rs 8 increase to Rs 218.