AIAWU Demands Doubling of the Budgetary Outlays for MNREGA
THE All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU), in a statement issued on February 10, has called on the agricultural workers of the country to unite against the attack on their most effective social security law, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. As the country observes the tenth anniversary of the MNREGA, both the ruling BJP, which vehemently opposed the foundations of the act itself, as well as the opposition Congress, which was forced to pilot the Act under the tremendous pressure from Left parties, are trying their best to own the Act while diluting its provisions and sharply cutting down its financial support and area of operation. The statement noted that it is under the BJP regime that the amount allocated was not increased in the last couple of budgets despite the growing backlog in payments. The number of panchayats where not even a single rupee was spent under this Act has increased from 15,000 to 40,000. Also, the BJP attempted to overhaul the Act by increasing the material component and reducing the labour component of expenditure under the Act. Despite issuing the notification for increasing the number of days to 150 in drought affected areas, it stopped increasing funds which resulted in a fall in the days of work available, timely payment of wages and all other indices of MNREGA. It is in this context the agricultural workers of the country must come forward to protect their right to employment under the MNREGA and fight for its strict implementation, said the AIAWU statement. AIAWU has made the following demands: • The budget outlay for the implementation of the Act be doubled at least so as to provide adequate employment. • 250 days of work per year be provided as the working days in agriculture have come down sharply and rural labour find it difficult to survive. • A minimum wage of Rs 300 per day should be given to partly meet the increased prices for food and bare necessities as the government has failed to control prices. • All MNREGA workers should be provided with BPL cards. • Delay in payments should be stopped forthwith through timely allotments by the centre. • Where full work is not being given even today, unemployment relief must be paid. • Social audits must be conducted regularly as demanded by the law to prevent corruption. AIAWU has called on all its units to observe this anniversary with village level actions highlighting its demands.