New Delhi: Thousands of NREGA workers, who have been waiting for the payment of their outstanding unemployment allowances guaranteed under the Act, may not get them as their entitlements can not be established.
A high level government panel has found that the applications for demand of work submitted by NREGA workers under the Act were not "documented or dated", and the dated receipts for such applications were not issued "in most
"As a result the eligibility of rural households for unemployment allowance, in these cases, was unverifiable...in the absence of recorded date of demand, the entitlement to
unemployment allowances could not be easily established," Public Accounts Committee on the implementation of NREGA for the fiscal 2009-10 said in its report, recently tabled in Parliament.
As per Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, the state government is required to provide employment to a registered applicant within 15 days of demand, failing which unemployment allowance at "stipulated rates" is payable by the state governments from
their fund, the Committee noted.
The Act stipulates that the rate of the allowance has to
be fixed by state governments in consultation with State
Councils. But, it should not be less than one-fourth of the
wages for the first 30 days of unemployment and half of the
wages beyond this.
"However, audit review has revealed that in 282 gram
panchayats in 21 states, dated receipt of applications for
demand for work were not given, and employment registers were
not maintained in 329 gram panchayats in 19 states," it said.
The committee noted that undated applications and
non-maintenance of employment registers "leads to a situation
where the right to unemployment allowance can not be verified
defeating the very purpose of the Act to provide employment
Suggesting that proper maintenance of records at gram
panchayat level needs to be given priority, the committee
suggested that ministry should impress upon the state
governments to appoint employment guarantee assistants (EGA)
in each gram panchayat.
"EGAs would ensure that all applications are dated and
dated receipts of all applications are given to the job
applicants," it said.
It also suggested that ministry should "suitably" take up
the matter with the state governments for ensuring "suo motu
payment" of unemployment allowance to the eligible NREGA
"The ministry may also consider suitable amendment to the
NREG Act for partial reimbursement out of Government of India
funds for payment of unemployment allowances while instituting
controls to minimise need for payment of unemployment
allowance by the states," it added.
While the payment of unemployment allowance is due for
21,99,558 days across the country in the current fiscal, only
Uttar Pradesh government has so far made payment just for 41
days to the NREGA workers in the state where the payment of
allowance is due for the rest of 3,111 days, according to
figures with the rural development ministry.