'MGNREGA Being Systematically Undermined': 250 MPs, Eminent Citizens Write to Modi

The signatories urge the PM to “make strengthening of MGNREGA an urgent priority” and “formally include it as part of the set of measures being considered to deal with the current rural and agrarian crisis”.

New Delhi: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme is facing a severe fund crunch, with 99% of money allocated already exhausted three months before the end of the financial year. Eleven states and union territories currently have a negative balance.

Concerned about workers in this lean season, nearly 90 members of parliament and 160 eminent citizens – including former bureaucrats, leading development economists, prominent activists and leaders of farmers’ movements – have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for an urgent response to the crisis MGNREGA is facing.

The letter is the outcome of a meeting held on January 3, 2019.

“We are alarmed to note that the country’s only employment guarantee is being systematically undermined. Illegal restrictions on its budget allocation, severe payment delays and low wages are crippling the programme and depriving people in distress of one of their most important legally supported structures,” the letter reads.

The 250 signatories urge the PM to “make the strengthening of MGNREGA an urgent priority” and “formally include it as part of the set of measures being considered to deal with the current rural and agrarian crisis”.

Since January 3, Rs 7,000 crore was been released to the Ministry of Rural Development. Even though this is a welcome move, the signatories call for a “strong consensus across party lines to ensure MGNREGA is protected and strengthened as a political commitment to improving the lives of millions of rural workers across the country”.

The signatories include Prithviraj Chavan, Digvijay Singh, Jignesh Mevani, Yogendra Yadav, Jaya Bachchan, Harsh Mander, Swami Agnivesh, Arundhati Roy, Wajahat Habibullah and Teesta Setalvad.

Read the full letter below:


Dear Shri Narendra Modi,

As a group of concerned citizens, workers, activists and elected representatives we write to direct your immediate attention to the challenges being faced by The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) today. MGNREGA is one of the strongest tried and tested measures that this government has to address the high levels of unemployment and declining farm incomes that have led to the situation of acute rural distress across the country. There is substantial evidence to show that it has played an important role in protecting the lives, livelihoods and wages of rural workers, and been a vital support to vulnerable communities, including those facing distress due to natural disasters and calamities.

Despite repeated public statements by your government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, we are alarmed to note that the country’s only employment guarantee is being systematically undermined. Illegal restrictions on its budget allocation, severe payment delays and low wages are crippling the program and depriving people in distress of one of  their  most  important  legally  supported  structures. 

Therefore,  we  urge  you  to  make  the strengthening of MGNREGA an urgent priority of your government and formally include it as part of the set of measures being considered to deal with the current rural and agrarian crisis.

We request you to:

1. Take all measures to register demand, provide dated acknowledgement receipts and open adequate works to meet this demand.

2. Ensure  that  adequate  and  timely  funds  are  provided  to  meet  work  demand.  Budget approved in Parliament is only an estimate and cannot become a ceiling on funds.

3. Ensure MGNREGA wages are not less that statutory minimum wage of the state.

4. Wage payment delays beyond 15 days at the level of both central and state government are separately  calculated,  disclosed  and  compensation  paid  for  the  full  extent  of  the  delay.Make all financial institutions and payment agencies accountable under the Act.

5. Rate of delayed payment compensation must comply with the Payment of Wages Act.

6. All financial, technical and administrative constraints on demand registration and wage payments for work done must be removed.

7. Every Gram Panchayat must have at least one labor intensive public work open at all times.

8. All information pertaining to program implementation must be made publicly available through the website and offline. The MIS must comply with provisions of the law.

9. Increase MGNREGA legal entitlement in all drought notified districts to 200 days.

For an act that has witnessed unanimous passage in Parliament by all political parties, it is our duty to ensure that the law is protected and is serving the best interests of the rural poor, particularly at a time of such severe distress. All of the above recommendations are in complete alignment with the objectives of the law. We call upon you to take swift, sensitive and timely action and demonstrate strong political will to protect the legal entitlement of millions of rural workers across the country.

Yours sincerely,

1.   Karan Singh Yadav (MP, Indian National Congress)

2.   Ali Anwar Ansari (Ex-MP, Janata Dal (U))

3.   Prithviraj Chavan (Former Chief Minister and MLA, Maharashtra, Indian National Congress)

4.   Syeda Hameed (Former Member, Planning Commission)

5.   Deepender Singh Hooda (MP, Haryana, Indian National Congress)

6.   Digvijay Singh (MP, Indian National Congress)

7.   Jignesh Mevani (MLA, Gujarat)

8.   Brinda Karat (Former MP, CPI (M))

9.   MV Rajeev Gowda (MP, Indian National Congress)

10. Mr. K Raju (Indian National Congress)

11. Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj India)

12. Avik Saha (Jai Kisan Andolan)13. K.C. Ramamurthy (MP, Indian National Congress)

14. Sitaram Yechury (Former MP, CPI (M))

15. Jayati Ghosh (Professor, Jawahar Lal Nehru University)

16. Harsh Mander (Aman Biradari)

17. Aruna Roy (National Federation of Indian Women)

18. Shankar Singh (NREGA Sangharsh Morcha)

19. Annie Raja (Peoples Action for Employment Guarantee)

20. Nikhil Dey (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan)

21. Prabhat Patnaik (JNU Emeritus Professor)

22. Amee Yajnik (MP LS INC)

23. Pradeep Tamta (MP RS)

24. Gaurav Gogoi (MP LS INC)

25. Ronald Sapa Tlau (MP RS INC)

26. C.L Ruala (MP LS INC)

27. Ripun Bora (MP RS INC)

28. Husain Dalwai (MP RS INC)

29. P. Bhattacharya (MP RS INC)

30. D. Raja (MP RS CPI)

31. Viplove Thakur (MP RS INC)

32. Pratap Singh Bajwa (MP RS INC)

33. Mohd. Ali Khan (MP RS INC)

34. B.K Hariprasad (MP RS INC)

35. Chhaya Verma (MP RS INC)

36. Neeraj Shekhar (MP RS Samajwadi Party)

37. Surendra Singh Nagar (MP RS Samajwadi Party)

38. Sanjay Seth (MP RS Samajwadi Party)

39. V.P Nishad (MP RS Samajwadi Party)

40. V Prabhakar Reddy (MP RS YSR Congress)

41. Parimal Nathwani (MP RS IND)

42. B.V Naik (MP LS INC)

43. R. Dhruvanarayana (MP LS INC)

44. Jayadev Galla (MP LS TDP)45. Dr. N Sivaprasad (MP LS TDP)

46. Nimmala Kristappa (MP LS TDP)

47. Ram Mohan Naidu (MP LS TDP)

48. Ashok Gajapati Raju (MP LS TDP)

49. Sriram Malyadri (MP LS TDP)

50. T.G Venkatesh (MP RS TDP)

51. M.B Rajesh (MP LS CPI (M))

52. V.H Pala (MP LS INC)

53. Jitendra Chaudhury (MP LS CPI (M))

54. Binoy Viswam (MP RS CPI)

55. D. Santanu Sen (MP RS AITC)

56. Kumari Selja (MP RS INC)

57. Vandana Chavan (MP RS NCP)

58. YS Chowdary (MP RS TDP)

59. K Ravindra Kumar (MP RS TDP)

60. P V Abdul Wahab (MP RS IUML)

61. Kalita Bhubaneshwar (MP RS INC)

62. Dr. Prakash Banda (MP RS TRS)

63. C.M. Ramesh (MP RS TDP)

64. Lingaiah Yadav (MP RS TRS)

65. Santosh Kumar Joginipally (MP RS TRS)

66. Jaya Bachchan (MP RS SP)

67. Sanjay Singh (MP RS AAP)

68. K.T.S Tulsi (MP RS NOM.)

69. Rajeev S. Satav (MP LS INC)

70. Jose K Mani (MP RS KC(M))

71. K.K. Ragesh (MP RS CPI(M))

72. Manoj Kumar Jha (MP RS RJD)

73. K. Somaprasad (MP RS CPI(M))

74. Narain Dass Gupta (MP RS AAP)

75. G.C. Chandrashekhar (MP RS INC)

76. Tiruchi Siva (MP RS DMK)77. Wansuk Syiem (MP RS INC)

78. P.L. Punia (MP RS INC)

79. K.V. P. Ramachandra (MP RS INC)

80. Ahmed Hasan (MP RS AITC)

81. Madhusudan Mistry (MP RS INC)

82. Santiuse Kujur (MP RS INC)

83. Naranbhai J. Rathwa (MP RS INC)

84. Kumar Ketkar (MP RS INC)

85. Konakalla Narayana Rao (MP LS TDP)

86. Santokh Singh Chaudhary (MP LS INC)

87. Gurjeet Singh Aujla (MP LS INC)

88. R. Radhakrishnan (MP LS AINRC)

89. MS Swaminathan (Scientist and founder of MSSRF)

90. Mary E. John (Centre for Women’s Development Studies)

91. Dr. V Mohini Giri (Chairperson, The Guild For Service)

92. Ms. Meera Khanna (Executive Vice President, The Guild For Service)

93. Ilina Sen

94. Ravi Buddhiraja (IAS retd.,)

95. Shantha Sinha (Former Chairperson-National Commission for Protection of Child


96. Yug Mohit Chaudhry (Scholar and Human Rights Lawyer)

97. Dhirendre Singh (IAS retd)

98. Chitrangada Choudhry (independent journalist and researcher)

99. Deep Joshi (Founder, PRADAN-Professional Assistance for Development Action)

100. Malika Sarabhai (Artist)

101.  Osama Manzar (digital empowerment foundation)

102. Smita Gupta (independent economist and researcher)

103. Teesta Setalwad (Citizens for Justice and Peace)

104. Bela Bhatia (Independent Researcher)

105. Himanshu Thakkar (SANDRP, Delhi)

106. Poguri Chennaiah (National Agricultural Workers forum, National Cntre for Labour)

107. Preeti Sampat (Ambedkar University)

108. CP Chandrashekhar (JNU)

109. Arindam Banerjee (Ambedkar University)

110. Zoya Hasan (Former prof, JNU)

111.  Sumi Krishna

112. S. Subramanyan (former ICSSR national fellow)

113. Madhu Bhaduri (Ambassador of India retd.)

114. Kamal Mitra Chenoy  (Prof, JNU)

115. Anuradha Chenoy (Prof, JNU)

116. Rashmi Shukla Sharma (IAS retd.)

117. Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkare (NAPM Karnataka)

118. TM Krishna  (Musician and Activist)

119.  LD Mishra (IAS retd.)

120. Noor Mohammed

121.  Achin Vanaik (Retd Professor, University of Delhi)

122. Rajendra Ravi (NAPM)

123. Anand Patwardhan  (Documentary Filmmaker)

124. Taru Dalmia (Musician, New Delhi)

125. Subodh Lal

126. Gauri Sankar Ghosh

127. EAS Sarma (IAS, retd)

128. Aruna Rodrigues (Sun Ray Harvesters)

129. Shailesh Gandhi (Former information commissioner-CIC)

130. Annapurna Shaw (Professor retd. IIM Calcutta)

131. Ashim Jain

132. Dilip D’Souza (writer, Bombay)

133. Aditi Mehta (IAS retd.)

134. Ramani Vekatesan (IAS retd.)

135. Nitin Desai

136. K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty (IAS, retd)

137. Navrekha Sharma

138. Uma (NAPM)

139. Basant Hetam Sariya (NAPM Jharkhand)

140. Mira Sangha Mitra (NAPM)

141. Sunanda Sen (Bard College)

142. Uma Chakravarti (Historian)

143. Javed Anand (Journalist and Civil Rights Activist)

144. Dinesh Mohan (IIT Delhi)

145. JP Rai (IAS retd.)

146. Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA)

147. Dhirendra Jha (All India Agricultural and Rural Labourers Association)

148. Deb Mukharji  (IAS)

149. Devaki Jain , Economist

150. Abha Bhaiya (women’s rights activist)

151. Vibha Puri Das (IAS, retd)

152. Keshav Desiraju (IAS, retd.)

153. Ajit Bhattacharjea (Delhi School of Economics)

154. Amita Baviskar (Institute of Economic Growth)

155. Sheila Bhalla (professor emerita, JNU)

156. Kamal Kant Jaswal (former secretary, Dept of Info tech, Govt of India)

157. Anand Teltumbde (Senior Prof and Chair Big Data Analytics, Goa Institute of


158. Kathyayini Chamaraj (Executive Trustee, CIVIC-Bangalore)

159. Arundhati Roy (Author)

160. Himanshu (Associate Professor, JNU)

161.  Swami Agnivesh, Activist

162. C. Rammanohar Reddy (Editor, The India Forum, Advisor, Citizen consumer and civic Actions Group)

163. Gladston Xavier (Prof, Loyola College, Chennai)

164. Vipul Mudgal (Director, Common Cause India)

165. Jagdish Joshi

166. P. Bhattacharya

167. Lalit Mathur (IAS, retd.)

168. Alok Perti (IAS, retd)169.           Salahuddin Ahmad  (IAS, retd.)

170. Arun Kumar

171. Naresh Saxena (IAS, retd.)

172. Sagar Rabari (Gujarat Khedut Ekta Manch)

173. Ashish Ranjan (Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan)

174. S. Satyabhama (IAS, retd)

175. Thanksy Francis Thekkekara (IAS, retd.)

176. Mritiunjoy Mohanty (Prof, IIM Calcutta)

177. Arundhati Dhuru (NAPM)

178. Shekhar Singh

179. Ira Pande, Author

180. Nivedita Menon (JNU)

181. Anuragini Nagar

182. Srinivas Chandaram

183. Manohar Elavarthi (General Secretary, Swaraj Abhiyan, Karnataka)

184. V. Rukmini Rao (Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Telangana)

185. Vatsala Anekal (Chinthamani Taluk, Karnataka)

186. Malika Virdi (Uttarakhand Mahila Manch)

187. Janchetna Sansthan, Rajasthan

188. Santosh Gedam

189. Sandip Chowdhury (Project Officer-Access to Energy in Forest Landscapes)

190. Subrat Das (CBGA)

191. Vasanth Kannabiran (Author, women’s rights activist)

192. Daniel Mazgaonkar (Activist, Mumbai)

193. Ginny Shrivastava (National Forum for Single Women’s Rights)

194. Wajahat Habibullah (IAS, retd)

195. Somnath Mukherji (Activist, AID)

196. Shiraz Prabhu (Activist)

197. PT George

198. Dunu Roy (Activist)

199. Sajjad Hassan  (IAS)

200. Meena Gupta (IAS, retd.)

201. Tara Murali (Architect, Advisor, Citizen consumer and civic Actions Group)

202. Gabriele Dietrich (NAPM)

203. DISHA

204. Anant Phadke

205. Goplalan Balagopal

206. Anna Dani

207. Manab Roy

208. Vimal Bhai (NAPM)

209. Sundar Burra (IAS, retd.)

210. Abhijit Sengupta (IAS, retd.)

211. Pranab Mukhopadhyay(IAS, retd.)

212. C. Balakrishnan (IAS, retd.)

213. Ravi Vira (IAS, retd.)

214. Krishnakant Chauhan (NAPM)

215. Umesh Anand, Editor, Civil Society Online

216. Himshi Singh (NAPM)

217. Natrajan BalaBaskar (IAS, retd.)

218. Harsh Mander (Activist)

219. Prafulla Samantara (NAPM)

220. Sona Mitra

221. Dayamani Barla (NAPM)

222. Aditya Bhattacharjea

223. Pradeep. K. Deb (IAS retd.)

224. Shanti Kakar (IAS retd.)

225. Rahul Khullar (IAS retd.)

226. Naresh Dayal (IAS retd.)

227. Devasahayam MG (IAS retd.)

228. Gautam Mody (NTUI)

229. Bhaskar Prabhu (Mahiti Adhikar Manch, Maharashtra)

230. Sujit Patwardhan

231. Xavier Dias (Former editor Khan Kaneej Aur Adhikar)

232. Tripurari Sharma (Former Prof., National School of Drama)

233. Chella Rajan (IIT-Madras)

234. Ashish Kothari (Environmentalist, Kalpavriksh)

235. Pravesh Sharma

236. Ardhendu Sen (IAS, retd.)

237. Ajai Kumar

238. Phrang Roy (Coordinator TIP, Chairman, NEFSAS)

239. Farah Naqvi (Writer)

240. Imrana Qadeer (former prof. JNU-CSD, India)

241. Indu Kumari

242. Aftab Seth (Diplomat, former ambassador of India to Greece, Japan and Vietnam)

243. Renu Khanna (NAPM)

244. Rahul Mukherji (University of Heidelberg)

245. Sumit Kumar (IAS)

246. Prof Hargopal, NLS Bangalore

247. Koninika Ray (NFIW)

248. Purnima Upadhyay (Melghat Janadhikar Andolan, Maharashtra)

249. Ranjan Ray (Dr. A.V. Baliga Memorial Trust)

250. Dipa Sinha (Ambedkar Universiry)