The Ministry of Rural Development on Thursday notified the revised MGNREGA daily wage rates for FY25. businessline’s analysis shows that between FY20 and FY25, the daily wage of NREGA workers has grown just around 30 per cent and is still way lower than how much agriculture labourers earn.

The increase in the last five years was the highest in Maharashtra (44 per cent) where it grew from ₹206 a day in FY20 to ₹297 in FY25. In Tripura, it grew 26 per cent and in Kerala, it is 28 per cent, the lowest among the States.

In February, a Parliamentary Standing Committee recommended that the wages for MGNREGA labourers should be at par with agri wages and should be at least ₹375 per day. However, the new notification shows that every State’s daily wage remains lower than ₹375.

The highest wage is notified in Haryana, where a worker will now receive ₹374 a day, ₹1 less than the Parliamentary Committee recommendation. The Parliamentary Committee arrived at ₹375 a day, based on a 2019 report by a committee headed by Anoop Satpathy, then a Fellow (faculty) at the V V Giri National Labour Institute.

“The need for a suitable wage increase under MGNREGA has been felt and echoed from various quarters and also highlighted by this Committee in its earlier reports. Therefore, the Committee again recommends that DoRD take a considered view on the pertinent issue of suitable increase in the wage rates under MGNREGA and increase the wage rates at the earliest for benefitting MGNREGA beneficiaries in a befitting manner,” the report noted.

The Mahatma Gandhi National rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 aims to provide at least 100 days of employment in a financial year to every household that demands it. The jobs include cleaning canals and drains, tilling, ploughing and clearing weeds.

Gap to be bridged

According to the latest notification, in FY25 NREGA labourers in just five States will receive a daily wage of more than ₹300. These are Karnataka (₹349), Kerala (₹346), Punjab (₹322) and Tamil Nadu (₹319). Odisha will also fall on this list since it is one of the three States to pay a wage top-up to its workers. The amount was ₹115 per day in FY24. In eight States, the wage is less than ₹250 per day. The States that rank at the bottom of the list are Uttarakhand (₹237), Uttar Pradesh (₹237) and Tripura (₹242).

On average, the FY25 MGNREGA daily wages are ₹105 lower than the daily wage for agriculture labourers in FY23. It is lower than the agri wages in all major States, except Gujarat. In Gujarat, an MGNREGA worker gets ₹14 more than an agricultural labourer, according to the FY23 figures. This is because, in the State, agri labourers earned just ₹242 a day, one of the lowest in the country. The difference between both wages is the highest in Kerala, where an agriculture labourer earns ₹431 more. The latter earns the highest wage of ₹764.3 in the State.