The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Sangharsh Morcha had organized a nation-wide protest on February 28, 2019. Following the protest, police complaints for registration of First Information Reports (FIR) were filed for non-payment of wages to labourers engaged under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005.
The complainants said that the government’s failure to pay wages and ensure the basic NREGA entitlements to workers amounted to a crime, as per the Supreme Court’s judgment of May 2016. In 2016, the SC had directed Government of India to release to the State Governments adequate funds under the Scheme in a timely manner so that the ‘workforce’ is paid its wages well in time. SC further directed the GOI to ensure that compensation for delayed payment is made over to the workers whose wages have been delayed beyond 15 days.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005 provides a legal guarantee for 100 days of employment in every financial year to rural households whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) monitors the implementation of MGNREGA in association with state governments.
The MGNREGA seeks to a) provide social protection for the most vulnerable people of rural India, b) Livelihood security for the poor through creation of durable assets, improved water security, soil conservation and higher land productivity, b) Drought-proofing and flood management in rural India, c) Empowerment of the socially disadvantaged, especially women, SCs and STs through the processes of a rights-based legislation, d) Deepen democracy at the grass-roots by strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions
World Bank in a report titled “The State of Social Safety Nets 2015” ranked MGNREGA as the world’s largest public works programme, providing social security net to almost 15% of India’s population.