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Reetika Khera

28 July 2005

The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill was tabled in Parliament on 27 July. The proposed legislation provides that anyone who is willing to do manual work in rural areas at the statutory minimum wage is entitled to work within 15 days. If work is not provided within 15 days, he/she is entitled to an unemployment allowance from the goverment.

The committee's report is favourable and endorses most of the demands made by people’s organisations during the last few months. The report will eventually become for the basis for a debate in Parliament. An amended draft bill based on the committee's recommendations is expected to be circulated soon. Citizens will need to keep an eye out for whether and how many of the committee's recommendations are actually incorporated in the amended bill.

Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi has reportedly said that the employment guarantee bill needed changes and (from the original version that was tabled in Parliament in December 2004). She said that eligibility for the benefits should be universal and irreversible and that the Act could be fully funded by the Centre and implemented and monitored by panchayats. "I am confident that the final Act (sic) that we will pass will have these changes incorporated", Sonia Gandhi said. (Source: NDTV report)

Summary of recommendations from the Standing Committee


    1. Universal eligibility. BPL cards should not be used as an eligibility criterion.
    2. Individual entitlements - anyone who comes forward should be given work.
    3. Time bound extension - within four years to the entire country.
    4. Removal of the provision for "switching off" the guarantee.
    5. States must notify within 6 months.

    Wages & Compensation

    6. Wages in according with the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Also tied to National floor minimum wage.
    7. Wages must be paid within a week.
    8. Wages to be de-linked from quality and quantity of work.
    9. In case of worker death, compensation increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000.


    10. Full cost to be borne by Central government.
    11. Foodgrains to be valued at BPL prices

    Unemployment allowances

    12. Unemployment allowance to be paid by states except when Central government is responsible for delay in providing work.
    13. No eligibility criterion for unemployment allowance.
    14. Recommends increasing the unemployment allowance to one half and three-fourths.
    15. Debarring from unemployment allowance only for the duration that the worker does not report for work.


    16. Panchayats to be the main implementing agency. Central role accorded to them.
    17. Works should include those that can be performed easily by women and disabled persons.
    18. Minimum number of applicants required to start new works reduced from 50 to 10.
    19. Provision of crèche when there are a minimum of 5 women, other facilites as well.
    20. Non-compliance will attract a penalty of Rs 5000 or 3 months imprisonment (or debarring from holding public office in the case of elected representative).


    21. Less restrictive list of works.
    22. States should be allowed greater flexibility in the list of works.

The Standing Committee’s report.

Reetika Khera
28 Jul 2005

Reetika Khera is a PhD student at the Delhi School of Economics and is associated with the Right to Food network.

Citizen Direct is India Together's channel for publishing reports from citizens who have detailed information about specific civil society concerns and matters, by virtue of their participation, association, or independent observation. These reports are therefore as witnessed and understood by the authors themselves; India Together accepts no liability or responsibility for them.   More

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