New Delhi: Demands for transparency in wage
payment under NREGA, giving "real wage" to workers and
emphasis on "no deviation" from basic architecture of the
scheme dominated the second meeting of the Central Employment
Guarantee Council of the Rural Development Ministry today.
Rural Development Minister C P Joshi, who chaired the
meet, said, "we are trying to work out different alternatives
to ensure more transparency in payment to the NREGA workers."
"A number of suggestions regarding this came in the
meeting. There were also suggestions regarding the issue of
increasing the limit of 100 days` work, enlarging the scope of
the work under the scheme. The Ministry will take into account
the suggestions of the Council and work accordingly."
Planning Commission member Mihir Shah said the Council
members stressed on payment of "real wages" to NREGA workers,
which is also a commitment of the Central government.
"Real wage means changes in price index will be reflected
in wages. Real wage will increase as per price rise. There was
an agreement in principle on the issue. Details have to be
worked out," he said.
Regarding the demand to increase the limit of 100 days of
work under NREGA in view of drought, a large number of Council
members felt the government should rather focus on
providing the existing 100 days employment to beneficiaries in
states. The states should spend money lying idle in their
drought relief fund to make up for the additional requirement,
"The government also presented before the Council the
draft notification of its proposal for recruiting Ombudsmen to
monitor implementation of NREGA in districts. Council members
gave a number of suggestions on it, which will be incorporated
in the final notification," Shah said.
Sources said some members strongly advocated for
maintaining the basic architecture of NREGA while responding
to the government`s proposals for conversion of the scheme to
raise more funds from other ministries.
Members also raised questions on the "improper"
expenditure of the 6 per cent allocation of the NREGA fund`s
administrative cost. They said that a fair amount of this
money should be used to deploy staff engaged in measurement
works as it has been found that delay in measurement of work
due to paucity of staff leads to delay in wage payment.
Joshi also objected to the still existing system of cash
payment to NREGA workers in Tamil Nadu, which is currently the
only state in the country which has not adopted bank payment
for releasing wages, sources said.
When the minister asked him why they have not moved to
bank payment so far, the Tamil Nadu representative reasoned
that they wanted to make payment in time, sources said.
The meeting also stressed on the need for an open and
interoperable architecture like ATM for banking correspondence
for wage payment in areas which have no banks. A technical
group was also invited to give a presentation on it.