Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Ministry of Rural Development on a PIL alleging improper implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), in terms of timely payment of wages and compensation. “States should wake up and make prompt payments,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu told advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioners RTI activist Aruna Roy, social activist Nikhil Dey and ex-civil servant Lalit Mathur, seeking the setting up of independent social audit units and indexing wage rates under the NREGA higher than that of the minimum wages stipulated under the Minimum Wages Act. The petitioners have claimed that irregularities in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has eroded the entire objective of securing livelihood for the people of rural India. Maintaining that Section 22(1) of the Act mandates the Centre to release funds for the wages, the petitioners said the dues payable to the rural workers have mounted to Rs 3,100 crore. "There is continuing violation of the provisions of the Act and there is a failure to provide funds for the work done," it added. "Poor implementation of the Act at the hands of the Central as well as State Governments has rendered the Act ineffective," the PIL said.
MGNREGS aims to ensure 100 days of employment in a financial year to adult members of a rural household who volunteer to perform unskilled manual work. The rural employment programme was notified on 7 September 2005, and came into effect on 2 February 2006. It seeks to create “durable assets” such as roads and irrigation facilities.