Bhubaneswar: Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has written to Odisha over the delayed payment of wages to beneficiaries of the rural employment guarantee scheme in the state, an official said Friday.

“Recent news accounts in national dailies and state reviews have highlighted the plight of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers on the issue of delay in wage payment,” the letter from Ramesh addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.

“This is a grave violation of the basic entitlements of these workers as the MGNREGS stipulates that wage payments be made within 15 days,” the minister stated in his letter dated Jan 8, a state government official told IANS.

“As of January 2014, wages amounting to Rs.216 crore (42 percent of the total wage payments) have been delayed over 15 days in your state. Out of this, around Rs.39 crore of payments have been delayed more than 60 days,” the minister said.

Ramesh has requested the state government to give this issue utmost priority and disburse all delayed payments to beneficiaries immediately. He has also urged the government to pay compensations for the delay, if needed.

Launched in 2006, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme guarantees 100 days of employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Source: IANS