AIDWA Concerned about Dilution of CMP Assurance of 100 days Employment

The All India Democratic Women's Association expresses its deep concern at the dilution of the CMP assurance for 100 days employment per household, as reflected in the draft Bill to be placed before Parliament. In the present flawed draft of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act the Government seeks to restrict the operation of the Act only to some selected districts with no guarantee of its expansion. Equally unfortunate the Draft defines a household on the basis of a shared dwelling or a common ration card ignoring the reality of joint families. In other words if there are three adult sons and their families living under the same roof or if there are single daughters, widows with their families, only one amongst them all will be eligible for employment under the draft Bill. This makes a mockery of the CMP assurance. Past experience of the negative consequences of the exclusion of women from Government work programmes has been ignored and there is no mention of the essential clause that at least forty per cent of those who get work under the law should be women. This grave omission is further compounded by the contradictory definitions of what constitutes "preferred work". Clearly heavy earth work cannot and should not be the only type of work offered, as implied in the various definitions of work in the draft. With a high degree of malnourishment among those sections of rural women who require the work most, it is utter cruelty to offer heavy manual work as an alternative to starvation. It is essential to redesign the work programmes under the proposed law to make it accessible for women. At present in most rural areas the legal minimum wages are not being paid. Shockingly the proposed draft provides sanction to the flouting of the minimum wages laws by itself proposing that the Minimum Wages Act should not apply to wages for work provided under the proposed Act, but may be decided by the Central Government. This is an ominous indication that the vulnerability of the millions of unemployed in rural India will be used to further push down the minimum wage, which must be prevented. Even though the scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme, the draft legislation expects the States to meet one third of the costs, which, given the depletion of resources available to the States, would make it virtually impossible to implement. It is therefore essential that the Centre take the responsibility for the entire cost.
AIDWA demands that the UPA Government implement the CMP assurance for 100 days guaranteed work without dilution and make the necessary revisions in the draft.
To focus on these issues AIDWA is organizing a national protest on Human Rights Day on December 10 through mass dharnas, meetings, demonstrations in all State capitals and also in Delhi. A delegation will also meet the Rural Development Minister in this connection.
Brinda Karat