BLACK Diwali for MNREGA workers in Rajasthan

Rajasthan Govt employees, MPs, MLA and other bureaucrats have seen huge hikes recently but for workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), wages have remained static ever since the scheme was launched five years ago. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot recently announced a Diwali bonus for the government employees in the state. "For Diwali we have decided to give bonus equal to 30 days salary. This will cost us Rs. 223 crore and it will cover six lakh government employees of our state," he said.
Social worker Aruna Roy recently shows concern during the meeting of the Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC) during August, 2010 led to outburst from some leaders of the ruling UPA 2.The note provided a critique on various aspects of implementation of NREGA. The Ministry of Rural Development rejected an increase in the minimum wages or linking it to prices (Consumer Price Index), as demanded by activists like Aruna Roy and Jean Dreze. It has been felt by the activists that the Government is keen to raise the salaries of the elites instead of the manual labourers who are employed under NREGA. Ms. Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey were also unhappy with the way Rajasthan Government refused registration of NREGS workers' unions in the state, despite such unions functioning in other states like UP and Gujarat.
NREGA, the UPA's (United Progressive Alliance) flagship program to combat rural poverty began five years ago but shockingly, wages of the workers under the NREGA have been unchanged. For nearly a month, they've been on a Dharna to demand a minimum wage of Rs. 135 a day. However, the government has refused to budge, claiming a financial crunch. Unwilling to tolerate the government insensitivity any longer, the workers have now decided to observe a 'Black Diwali'. Rajasthan has also been the state in news recently, where sarpanches were protesting against conducting of social audits. The sarpanches in Rajasthan have been openly violating rules by giving material supply contracts to their favorites.