Mayawati almost doubles wages of unskilled agriculture labour

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 23 2007, 05:51am hrs
The newly elected Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh, last week, raised the minimum daily wage of unskilled agriculture labourers from Rs 58 to Rs 100, effecting an increase of 172.4%. Now, the daily minimum wage of unskilled farm workers is the highest in north India, with the exception of Delhi.

Going a step further, the UP chief minister said she would work for the development of agriculture and would target an overall economic growth of 10% in the 11th Plan period and work towards bringing down the poverty ratio by 50%. She has asked for a package of Rs 87,972.66 crore from the Centre for overall development of the state, particularly the Bundelkhand and the eastern region.

Out of the total package, Mayawati has asked for Rs 25,404.08 crore for agriculture and allied activities. Scrapping the sugar policy of the erstwhile Mulayam Singh government, the chief minister also announced that she would soon formulate a rational sugar policy which would cater to the needy and not the greedy. In the national capital territory of Delhi, which does not have much of cropped area, the minimum daily wage of unskilled farm labourers is Rs 117.10, that of skilled farm labour is Rs 133.40 and that of semi-skilled farm labour is Rs 123.50.

Fixation of minimum daily wages of workers is mandatory under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and state governments are empowered to do so.

Among the leading agrarian states in the country, the south Indian states have a better record. Andhra Pradesh has fixed the minimum daily wage for farm workers at Rs 102, while in the wage in Kerala for unskilled farm workers is Rs 120. Tamil Nadu has fixed its daily minimum wages in the range of Rs 54.44 to Rs 150. In Karnataka, the daily minimum wages for farm workers is in the range of Rs 60.73 to Rs 72.17.

The Green Revolution states of Punjab and Haryana, however, have given added emphasis on the wages of skilled and semi-skilled farm workers.

In fact, Haryana has devised a special category highly skilled farm workers and fixed their daily minimum wage at Rs 117.09, while for skilled one it has fixed at Rs 105.65 and that for semi-skilled ones at Rs 99.78. In Punjab, the daily minimum wages for workers are in the range of Rs 90.44 to Rs 94.24. Rajasthan has fixed Rs 81 for skilled farm workers, Rs 77 for semi-skilled farm workers and Rs 73 for unskilled ones.

The Left Front-ruled West Bengal, however, has a different way for fixation of daily minimum wages. The daily minimum wage for farmer workers without meals is fixed at Rs 67.42, while for those workers given two square meals is fixed at Rs 64.22.