Request to groups and people’s campaigns working on MGNREGA

9th October 2010

Dear Friends and colleagues,

As you may know the S. R. Abhiyan in Rajasthan had organized a Mazdoor Haq Yatra, which began on the 15th of September, 2010 culminating in an indefinite dharna called the Mazdoor Haq Satyagraha near the Statue Circle in Jaipur on October 2nd. The focus issues of the yatras and the satyagraha are – increase in minimum wages for workers, linking of minimum wages with the price index, ensuring implementation of minimum wages and timely payment of wages and effective implementation of social audits under the MGNREGA. However, the most immediate crisis is the unjustifiable and unconstitutional decision of the Central and State governments to delink minimum wages from the payment of wages under MGNREGA. It is completely unacceptable that the only protection unorganised sector workers have had for sixty years should be undermined and violated by another Act of Government. This will of course also undermine the MGNREGA.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) rests on two principal entitlements- 1) the entitlement to 100 days of work, 2) at minimum wages.  It is a combination of both entitlements that ensures a minimum level of income to the poorest rural families. In January 2009, through a notification the Central Government de-linked minimum wages from wages under the MGNREGA. As a result the “wage rates” have been frozen at Rs. 100 for almost two years. There are several instances across the country where people working on MGNREGA work sites are being paid less than the minimum wage. (AP, Karnataka, Kerala, HP, Haryana, and now Rajasthan for example). In Rajasthan even the “wage rate” arbitrarily fixed by government is systematically violated with people being paid as little as one rupee a day (as was the case of 99 workers from Tonk in Rajasthan). The average payment of Rs. 75 per paid in Rajasthan makes even the Rs. 100 a day a charade.

The Supreme Court has reiterated in several cases that any case of non payment of minimum wages amounts to ‘forced labour’. Tragically, an enactment based on empowering the poor and eradicating poverty is undermining one of the most fundamental protections enjoyed by the unorganised sector. Because of this notification, in the MGNREGA the government itself is perpetuating poverty, and blatantly exploiting the poor.

The S. R. Abhiyan is unwilling to let any employer (much less the government) undermine the sanctity of minimum wages for any worker in the state and country. The satyagraha will continue indefinitely until the demand for increase in minimum wages and effective implementation of social audits is addressed by the state government. On 30th October the SR Abhiyan proposes to organise a jansunwai in Jaipur (public hearing) on MGNREGA to look into the status of implementation of the ten entitlements under MGNREGA in Rajasthan.

The issue of minimum wages and effective implementation of MGNREGA is a national concern and affects all of us. We are making an appeal to all supporters and groups actively working for the effective uptake and implementation of MGNREGA to give time, spread the word, join the campaign to support what may turn out to be a long and decisive struggle for dignity and justice. We request groups and people’s campaigns working on MGNREGA across India to consider this crisis and:

a. Plan and organise agitations at their respective state and local levels.

b. Can we plan a national agitation in Delhi in November (after Diwali)?

c. At the same time can we also plan to organise a People’s Audit of MGNREGA? We suggest that the purpose of the People’s Audit be to discuss the sanctity of minimum wages and to fix wages for workers as well as to look into the status of the ten entitlements under MGNREGA in our states and share our experiences and the challenges faced in the implementation of MGNREGA.

All documents, press cuttings, daily press releases, photographs etc are available online at: Our contacts are given below. We look forward to seeing you at the Satyagraha.

Aruna Roy,  Bhanwar Meghwanshi, Hariom Soni, Moti Lal, Richa Odichya, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Ram Karan and R D Vyas, Naveen Narayan, Renuka Pamecha, Rawata Ram.

(On behalf of the Rozgar Evum Suchna ke Adhikar ka Abhiyan, Rajasthan)

Contact details:

Suchna evum Rozgar ka Adhikar Abhiyan (S R Abhiyan)
Address: 20, Narain Nagar, Badgaon, District  Udaipur, Rajasthan
Fax: +91 294 2451391

RTI Manch
Address: Plot number S-9, Rajshree Apartments, Jyoti Nagar Extension, Behind Amroodo ka Baag, Jaipur – 300205
Landline: +91 141 2740019
Mobile: +91 9252489519


Suchna evum Rozgar ka Adhikar Abhiyan (S R Abhiyan)
Address: 20, Narain Nagar, Badgaon, District Udaipur, Rajasthan
Fax: +91 294 2451391

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