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PM to decide giving minimum wages to NREGA workers: Joshi

By Abdul Nisar

New Delhi, Nov.20 (ANI): Rural Development Minister C P Joshi said on Saturday that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to consider payment of minimum wages to National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) workers as recommended by the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi.

"It is a recommendation of the NAC. Her (Sonia Gandhi) recommendation is to the Government of India and the Prime Minister will address it," said Joshi.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had recently written a letter to the Prime Minister, saying that there was a general agreement in the Council that NREGA workers be paid minimum wages as notified under the Minimum Wages Act.

In her letter, Sonia Gandhi also noted that minimum wages are now higher than rupees 100 in several states including Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka and Kerala, resulting in payment of less wage to NREGA workers than the state's minimum wage in these states.

Gandhi also noted in her letter that Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh governments have requested that provisions of minimum wages be "respected".

The Rural Development Ministry had been dragged to the Andhra Pradesh court over non-payment of minimum wages to NREGA workers.

The Ministry had been paying agricultural wages of various states for the scheme, till it fixed the wage rate at rupees 100 a day in January last year.

This prompted a demand from various quarters to treat the work done under NREGA as scheduled employment under the Minimum Wages Act as the wages are higher in many states creating a situation wherein NREGA wages violate the Minimum Wages Act. (ANI)

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