MNREGS mockery: Rs .001 per day

MNREGS
At Chenpura village in Dudu district, Ghisi Devi, Lad Kanvar, Sannu Kanvar and several others toiled to make a gravel road from May 5 to July 3 last year. After 12 working days, they earned Rs 28, a dismal Rs 2 per day under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. In neighbouring Sakhun, Shrirampura, Gagardu and Gangati villages, wages from Re 1 to Rs 15 per day were handed out for various works under the scheme. This was revealed by the mustrolls listed in the official website of the Ministry of Rural Development.

The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, a Rajsamand based-NGO, has submitted mustrolls of four districts in the state where similar dismal payments were made.

In Didwana, Ajmer district, 111 workers were paid Rs 35 per day for a 'patwari nadi khudai' while in Godali in Udaipur 60 workers got Rs 25 per day for working on a road. In Shyopura, Churu district, 120 people worked for Rs 29 per day. The most bizarre case was at Ajagara in Ajmer where 119 workers constructed a road for Re 0.001.

The NGO has written to Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh pointing out the abnormally low wages.

In Rajasthan, the per day MNREGS wage is fixed at Rs 133, slated to go up to Rs 149 from April 1. Activists have time and again pointed out irregularities in the wages and an official notice was sent out to officials by Additional Chief Secretary, rural development, C S Rajan in August 2010.

Chief Secretary C K Mathew told The Indian Express, "In Dudu, it was found that workers were illegally using machinery; therefore the payment became very small. The mustrolls where irregularities have been pointed out have been sent to the rural development department for inquiry today. The matter is being looked into."

Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, however, pointed out that if machinery was used, the entire work order should have been cancelled and payments not made at all, according to the provisions of the Act. "How come there are examples of mass irregularities; and if machines were being used why were engineers or the concerned district collectors not being penalised? There were no FIRs filed to prove that there has been any irregularity in the jobs."

National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy, said, "MNREGS, the globally discussed and appreciated scheme of India, which gives guarantee of 100 days employment to needy rural people, seems to have no guarantee of its own future... this ambitious scheme is not only losing its charm but also people's interest in it.

The abnormally low average wages... is giving a wrong message to the community that no matter how much one works one cannot earn sufficient income even to have food."

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