Delays of several months in National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme ﴾NREGS﴿ wage payments and work sites where labors have lost all hope of being paid at all have become the norm in many states. How are workers who exist on the margins of subsistence supposed to feed their families? Under the scheme, workers must be paid within 15 days, failing which they are entitled, to compensation under the Payment of Wages Act‐upto 3000 per aggrieved worker. In reality, compensation is received in only a few isolated instances. It is often argued by officials that the main reason for the delay is the inability of banks and post offices to handle mass payments of NREGS wages. Though there is a grain of truth in this, as a diagnosis it is misleading. The 'jam' in the banking system has been the result of the hasty switch to bank payments imposed by the Central
Government against the recommendation of the Central Employment Guarantee Council which advocated a gradual transition starting with villages relatively close to the nearest bank. However, delays are not confined solely to the banking system. Operational hurdles include implementing agencies taking more than fifteen days to issue payment orders, viewing of work measurement as a cumbersome process resulting in procrastination by the engineering staff and non maintenance of muster rolls and job card etc. But behind these delays lies a deeper and deliberate 'backlash' against the NREGS. With bank payments making it much harder to embezzle NREGS funds, the program is seen as a headache by many government functionaries the workload has remained without the "inducements". Slowing down wage payments is a convenient way of sabotaging the scheme because workers will desert NREGS worksites. The common sense solution advocated by the government is to adopt the business correspondent model. Where in bank agents will go to villages to make cash payments and duly record them on handheld, electronic devices. This solution is based on the wrong diagnosis that distance separating villages from banks is the main issue. In order to accelerate payments, clear timelines for every step of the payment process should be incorporated into the system as Program Officers often have no data on delays and cannot exert due pressure to remedy the situation. Workers are both clueless and powerless with no provision for them to air their grievances and seek redress. In drought affected areas the system of piece rate work can be dispensed with where work measurement is not completed within a week and wages may be paid on the basis of attendance. Buffer funds can be provided to gram panchayat and post offices to avoid bottlenecks in the flow of funds. Partial advances could also be considered provided wage payments are meticulously tracked. But failure to recognize problems and unwillingness to remedy them will remain major threats to the NREGS.
1.What impact have late wage payments had on NREGS workers?
A﴿ They cannot obtain employment till their dues are cleared
B﴿ they have benefited from the compensation awarded to them
C﴿ they have been unable to provide for their families
D﴿ They have been ostracized by their families who depend on them for sustenance
E﴿ None of these
2. Which of the following factors has not been responsible for untimely payment of NREGS wages?
A﴿ Communication delays between agencies implementing the scheme
B﴿ Improper record keeping
C﴿ Behind schedule release of payments by banks
D﴿ Drought conditions prevalent in the country
E﴿ Delays in work measurement
3. What has the outcome of disbursing NREGS wages through banks been?
A﴿ Theft of funds by administration officials responsible for the scheme has reduced
B﴿ Increased work load for local government officials
C﴿ Protests by workers who have to travel long distances to the nearest bank to claim their wages
D﴿ Time consuming formalities have to be completed by workers
E﴿ None of the above
4. According to the passage, which of the following has/have been the consequence ﴾s﴿ of delayed wage payments?
A. Compensation to victimized workers has amounted to crores.
B. Banks will no longer be entrusted with remitting wages.
C. Regulations to ensure punctual wage payments have come into force.
A﴿ None of these
B﴿ Only ﴾A﴿
C﴿ Only ﴾A﴿ & ﴾C﴿
D﴿ ﴾A﴿ and ﴾B﴿
E﴿ ﴾B﴿ and ﴾C﴿
5. To which of the following has the author attributed the delay in wage payments?
A﴿ Embezzlement of funds by corrupt bank staff
B﴿ Lack of monitoring by the Central Employment Guarantee Council
C﴿ An attempt to derai1 the NREGS by vested interests
D﴿ Overworked bank staff deliberately delay payments to protest against extra work
E﴿ Engineers efforts to wreck the NREGS because of low wages
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Last update on March 6, 6:22 am by Rahil Choudhary.
Rahil Choudhary
1. Option E
2. Option D
3. Option B
4. Option A
5. Option C