Bhubaneswar: In what could be termed as an absolute mockery of Odia workers, the Central government has declined to hike wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) even as it increased the same for other states last month.
Twenty eight states and 6 union territories have seen an increase in the wages in the range of Rs 5- 10, while the wages for workers in Odisha have been left unchanged at Rs 174. Though the State government had written to the Centre demanding that the wages be increased to Rs 200, the central government has ignored the demands. This despite the fact that the State Panchayatiraj department has written to the Centre twice regarding the increase in wages.
A notification published by the Union Rural development ministry clearly mentions a hike in the wages for all the States and union territories.
The singling out of Odisha while announcing the raise has predictably added more fuel to the ‘Central negligence’ spitfire, with both the ruling BJD and Opposition Congress criticizing the move.
“The State government had recommended an increase in wages to Rs 200. However, the Center did not consider our plea even though it has hiked the wages for other States which can only be termed as unjust,” said Panchayatiraj minister Arun Sahoo.
“It is unfortunate, condemnable and shameful on the part of the NDA regime,” said Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati.
Even members of Odisha BJP expressed the need of a hike in wages under MGNREGA. “There is definitely a need to hike the wages in Odisha and I would like to urge the Central government to do the same,” said BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit.
However, Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said; “As per the preliminary information I have gathered, the Consumer Price Index of the labourers in Odisha is negative which is why there has been no increase in wages. Give me some more time to look into the details after which I will be able to comment on it.”