New Wage Rates for MGNREGA are Highly Inadequate

The All India Agricultural and Rural Workers Association has termed new wage rates declared by the Modi government for MGNREGA a mockery, demanding its revision at par with other sections of unskilled workers and in accordance with rising prices. Dhirendra Jha, General Secretary of AIRALA, has said that a countrywide campaign is being conducted for highlighting wage and other issues of rural workers. He criticised the central government for decreasing budget allocation in this scheme and attempting to kill the basic nature of this important scheme by forcing job seeking rural poor for digital attendance through a mobile Application and linking Job Cards with Aadhar. The Modi government is going for these measures undermining genuine demands of the rural poor and a nationwide opposition by various rural workers’ organisations.

The new wage rates declared in MGNREGA are nothing but an open loot of rural labour which eventually will further increase out-migration of the poor in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, UP and Chhattisgarh. In Bihar MGNREGA wage is Rs. 228 while the same for unskilled workers is Rs. 429!

The AIARLA has said that the BJP regime in the centre wants states like Bihar to remain a source of cheap supply of migrant labour which is unacceptable. The AIARLA has expressed solidarity with the 100-day protest sit-in of rural workers’ organisations going on in the national capital and declared its week long participation in this programme in the coming month.

AIARLA in its national executive meeting held in Patna decided to hold a nationwide protest programme on April 17 at all Block headquarters with these demands. In addition, in Tamilnadu, padyatras will be organised in many districts. On the Birth Anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar gatherings will be organised in villages where Preamble of the Constitution will be read out loud and pledge will be taken to strengthen the organisation of rural poor with the slogan ‘Organise, Educate, Agitate!’ against the assaults on democracy by the dictatorial policies of the Modi regime who are working to fulfil the vested interests of crony corporates like Ambani and Adani.

AIARLA has issued a 10-point Charter of Demands for the forthcoming countrywide campaign as follows:

1. Down with Bulldozer Raj! - Give homestead land with legal documentation to people who have been living on those lands for decades. Conduct a complete survey of all settlements and make new housing laws. Stop the demolition of houses without alternative arrangements. Make Right to Housing a fundamental right!

2. Ensure a system for increasing the minimum wages and its effective implementation. Declare the minimum wage of Rs. 429 fixed for unskilled labourers by the Government of India as the minimum wage of MNREGA. Ensure payment of minimum wages fixed by the states to the MNREGA workers  be not less than ₹429 at any cost! Stop digital attendance in MNREGA! The AIARLA has demanded Rs. 600 per day minimum wage in this Scheme and a minimum work-days of 200 days in a year.

3. Strengthen Food Security Act in view of India's worsening condition in Hunger Index. Bring legal provision for provisioning of rice, wheat , pulses, oil, vegetables, sugar, milk etc. Stop the political use of this constitutional provision!

4. Guarantee mandatory monthly pension system of Rs 3000 to all old people, disabled and women above 60 years of age!

5. Increase the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana assistance to Rs 5 lakh and put an end to brokerage and bureaucratic loot!

6. Waive off the government and private money lender loans of all Dalit and poor labourers. Make arrangements for institutional loans of upto Rs.5 lakh without interest. Reduce the interest rate of self-help groups and microfinance companies and declare forced loan recovery as a cognizable crime!

7. Waive off the electricity bill of all Dalit, poor and BPL families for the Covid-19 pandemic period and 200 units of free electricity should be given to these families.

8. Put an end to life threatening inflation. Stop the steady rise in the prices of food items, medicines and treatment. Bring a provision of dearness allowance for the rural labourers!

9. Stop privatisation of education and health. Ensure quality education for rural labourers. Guarantee scholarships for all boys and girls, at every level!

10. Stop the increasing attacks of feudal and domineering groups on dalit, poor and women.