Centre tells States to split rural jobs scheme wages into separate categories for SCs, STs, others
The Centre has asked the States to split wage payments under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme into separate categories for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and others from this financial year.
This will unnecessarily complicate the payment system, and expressed fears that it may lead to a reduction in scheme funding.
Government of India has decided to provide separate budget heads for SC and ST categories under MGNREGS from the financial year 2021-22 for wage payment.
The existing system for wages under the scheme is for only one type that is there is no category wise provision of wage payment.
The Ministry may be thinking that this allocation is all being taken by the general category people, so they want to segregate based on the population of the district. And even the projection is done like that. Government thought: ‘Why not take exclusive allocation for SC and ST
All NREGA workers have the same rights. Segregating them into three groups for purposes of budgeting and wage payments serves no purpose,.
Some activists expressed the fear that the reform is meant to reduce funding.
There is some inbuilt positive discrimination in the scheme, reflected in the fact that more than 50% of workers are women and almost 40% are SC/ST. However, it felt that the proposed reform would not help SC/ST workers, but would expose all workers to further uncertainties as the system struggles with changes.
An analysis of wage payments in Jharkhand in April and May by LibTech India found no differences in the time taken to pay SC/ST workers and others, indicating that there was no benefit for marginalised communities under the new system.
However, it found that the Centre took 26 days to pay workers even after States generated fund transfer orders, as opposed to the stipulated seven-day period.