New Delhi: Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said there was a need to have parity of wage under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) and the Minimum Wages Act.
He said, in 14 states including Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Rajasthan, the wage under the rural job scheme was lower than the rate stipulated under the Minimum Wages Act.
Speaking at an event to mark the 9th MNREGA Divas here, Ramesh said to bring in parity of wage the MNREGA needed to be amended and an expert panel was looking into the matter.
The MNREGA wage rate would be enhanced from April 1, he said, adding the notification in this regard would be placed before Parliament in the session beginning later this week.
Ramesh said the MNREGA wage rate had already been linked to the Consumer Price Index and the yearly revision was being done accordingly.
He exhorted officials to motivate and help small and marginal farmers undertake land labelling and irrigation schemes on their land under the scheme, and lamented that only 10 per cent farmers had so far benefitted from this provision.
He asked officials to bring MNREGA workers under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana as only 15 to 20 per cent of them were at present covered under it. Ramesh said that 2014-15 should be celebrated as Convergence Year for MNREGA.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain Aditya said the act had brought in a revolution and had helped stop the distress migration from rural to urban areas.
In his address, Minister of State for Rural Development Lal Chand Kataria said the scheme had led to creation of durable assets, besides recharging groundwater through watershed schemes thus helping in expansion of irrigated land.
Planning Commission member Mihir Shah said that in the past three to four years MNREGA had been made more flexible and about 30 new works were added as per state specifications.
He said social audit had helped check corruption to a large extent and with full implementation of Direct Benefits Transfer, the role of middlemen would be abolished.
Forty-seven awards were distributed on the occasion for best initiatives and innovations in the job scheme.