MNREGA wage hiked by 5 to 7 %, less than 5% in 21 states; social activists slam the nominal hike

This increase is just about half the increase in inflation rates. This does not make up for the inflation. So, how are people expected to survive, asked a member of Pashchim Bang Khet Majoor Samiti

Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Ashlin Mathew

The Centre increased wage rates for work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) for 2022-23 by five to seven per cent, with 21 out of 34 states and Union Territories getting less than 5 per cent increase. This means wages have been increased in the range of ₹4 to ₹21 per day across the country. Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram will see no wage hike this year.

The wage rates were notified by Ministry of Rural Development under sub-section (1) on Tuesday and will be effective from April 1. However, the revised rate is much below the minimum wage notified by the states for unskilled labour.

Sikkim will have two wage patterns – in three-gram panchayats (Gnathang, Lachung, Lachen) the MNREGA wages have been increased to ₹333 from 318 in 2021-22 and in rest of the state, the wage has been increased to ₹222 from ₹212 with a 4.72% hike. Following Sikkim, the highest wage hike has been in Haryana where all MNREGA workers will get paid ₹331 from ₹315 the previous year.

Of the 31 states and UTs, the maximum hike of 7.14% was for Goa where it would rise to ₹315 per day in 2022-23 from ₹294 per day in 2021-22. This is followed by Karnataka where the hike is 6.92% and the wages would increase to ₹309 from ₹289. For Kerala, the wages would increase to ₹311 from ₹291 with a 6.87% hike.

Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa have been increased between 5-7%. The wages have been increased by only 2-3% in Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. It was been increased by 3-4% in Odisha, Maharashtra, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, while in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the hike is 4-5%.

MNREGA workers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, who get the lowest wage of ₹193, will now get ₹204. Workers in Bengal will get Rs 223 for a day’s work, a hike of Rs 10. MNREGA wages in both Jharkhand and Bihar have been increased to ₹210 from ₹198, which is a 6.06% hike.

MREGA is a law under which at least 100 days of wage employment is given to unskilled workers in rural India. It aims to guarantee the right to work and improve social security in rural areas. According to the Act, the wage for each state is revised on April 1 every year after checking the the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPIAL). This aims to factor in inflation based on consumption by farm workers.

Social activists have slammed the nominal hike in wages. Many of them pointed out that the inflation rates in the country were between 8-10%. “The inflation rate in West Bengal 8.7% and they have increased the wage for West Bengal by 4.6%. So, the increase in wages is just about half the increase in inflation rates. This does not make up for the inflation. So, how are people expected to survive,” asked Anuradha Talwar, state committee member of Pashchim Bang Khet Majoor Samiti.

This is a continuous process where the MREGA wages are always much lesser than what different states have prescribed as the minimum wage for the state, pointed out Talwar. “Here the union government itself is breaking rules. This is illegal. It seems like government officials do not want workers to come there unless they do not get work anywhere else. The message is that the government will take care of you only if you are close to starvation,” remarked Talwar.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 30 Mar 2022, 4:08 PM