Labour activists demand daily wage hike for MGNREGA workers; write to PM Modi

While stressing on the plight of MGNREGA workers during the COVID19 pandemic, labour activists have demanded that a daily wage of Rs 600 should be fixed for these workers, who, at present, are paid an average of Rs 206 as of now. Details here.

Gaon Connection
| Updated: September 21st, 2021

The activists have demanded workers should be provided drinking water and shed for rest at the worksite. Photo: Gaon Connection

In the wake of the worsened socio-economic conditions of the informal workers during the COVID19 in the country, activists have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the daily wages of labourers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) should be raised to Rs 600.

“This is NSMS’ [NREGA Sangharsh Morcha] long-standing demand. As of now, these workers are given something around Rs 206 per day,” Jharkhand-based Debmalya Nandi, member, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha told Gaon Connection.

It is notable that amid the rising unemployment and job crisis, especially in rural areas, the budget for MGNREGA was decreased this year ( fiscal year 2021-22) by 34 per cent as compared to the revised estimate of the year 2020-21. The allocation for 2021-22 stands at Rs 730 billion, 34.5 per cent lesser than Budget 2020’s revised allocation of Rs 1,115 billion.

“The huge inflation in the past two years during the pandemic also means that in real terms the wages in MGNREGA remain insufficient,” reads the letter to the Prime Minister and the Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh.

“In such trying times, the spirit of MGNREGA as an entitlement for people’s right to work with dignity and social protection must be strengthened,” it added.

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The national network has put forward following demands to ensure worker’s right to work with dignity and social protection.


  • The Government of India should notify a wage rate of Rs 600/day for NREGA workers as per recommendations of the 7th Pay commission which will allow dignified living for 150 million households who are registered under NREGA. A respectable increase in wages of MGNREGA workers has become urgent keeping in mind the huge inflation in the prices of food and all consumer goods. 
  • The Government of India should notify allocation of 150 days of wage work annually for each job card holding individual. Keeping with this demand, allocate necessary budget for employment of 290 million job card registered workers. MGNREGA provides for 100 days a year of employment to people in rural areas.
  • The Section 3 of the MGNREGA laid down that the wages shall be paid within 15 days of the closure of the Muster Roll. However, there are delays in payment of wages. With non-implementation of the detailed guidelines for the compensation of the delayed payments as per the Para 29 of the Section II of the MGNREGA. It has been also observed that there has been significant delays in payments of wages from the central government and in a pandemic year where rural citizens are cash strapped, lost their earnings and became more indebtedness as a result, these delays in releasing wages are unacceptable. We strongly demand that the central government simplifies its payments process and ensure on-time payments of wages in a decentralized manner. Also, all the back wages of MGNREGA workers across the states be paid as per the guidelines for the delayed payment and the Supreme Court orders in the Swaraj Abhiyan v Union of India case. 
  • All members of NREGA job card holding families should be brought under the Employment State Insurance Act as a social protection measure of all MGNREGA workers. 
  • Each worksite should follow COVID19 protocol with all required provisions such as face mask, facility for hand wash, or sanitisers, drinking water, shed for rest and medical assistance.

Also Read: Helpline for migrant workers launched — legal aid, police support and dispute resolution among services provided

Gaon Connection Survey

A nationwide survey by Gaon Connection last year found that a whopping 80 per cent of villagers did not find any work under MGNREGA during the COVID19 lockdown, while only 20 per cent found employment under the scheme.

The survey also found that the poorest households were least likely to have benefitted from MGNREGA during the lockdown. For instance, only 17 per cent of the poorest households reportedly got work under MGNREGA during the lockdown, whereas 24 per cent rich households found wage-employment under the rural employment scheme.