Telangana may not gain from Centre's new wage hike

Labourers in the state already get Rs 211 per day, which is more than the pay hike announced by Sitharaman

Hyderabad: Increasing the income of labourers working under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme as a part of the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) package announced on Thursday, is not expected to make much of a difference to MGNREGA beneficiaries in Telangana state.

On Thursday the Centre announced a Rs 1.7-lakh crore PMGKY package in the wake of the nationwide lockdown.

The package was aimed at providing relief to those sections of society that need financial and other support in the current atmosphere.

According to Mr Chakradhar Buddha, programme director, Lib Tech India, whose team of engineers, social workers and social scientists works to improve public service delivery, MGNREGA workers in Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh earn Rs 211 per day, which is more than the amount that has been increased under PMGKY.

In fact, according to a notification of March 23, from the ministry of rural development, the wages were increased to Rs 237 and the new rates will come into force from April 1 for both Telugu states.

Every year, the wages are increased as part of the annual inflation adjustment.

This has seen wages rise from Rs 197 to Rs 205, and later to Rs 211 in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Mr Buddha said this year the wages rose to Rs 237. “Under the new scheme, claims of wage increases are factually wrong and amount to deceiving people,” he says.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, when announcing the new scheme, also talked about social distancing in MGNREGA, which is nearly impossible. “This is operationally and technically not a feasible option,” Mr Buddha said.

He said MGNREGA workers have received no benefits in the big grand package.

“Actually, some of us anticipated that work days might be increased by another 50-100 days. But the Union minister didn't even mention the issue. If they had enhanced the work days it would be of great help. Each family requires a minimum 150-200 days of work for survival. If we look at it from a rural distress perspective, it is a pretty disappointing package for MGNREGA workers,” he said.

According to Mr Ravi Kanneganti of the Rythu Swaraja Vedika, “The government should first release the funds for which many workers had completed the works. Later they can increase the wages. In Telangana state, the wage is already Rs 237. I don't understand how the enhancement will benefit the workers in the state.”

On top of that there are no MGNREGA works happening in Telangana due to the strike by field assistants, added Mr Kanneganti.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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