The minimum daily wages paid to agricultural labourers in Gujarat have been raised by 82.1 percent to Rs 324.2 per day, Dilipkumar Thakor, minister for labour and employment told the state legislature on Monday.
“The minimum wages paid in the agriculture sector was Rs 178 per day. Every five years it is reviewed. On January 1, 2021, we released a new notification according to which the minimum wages was raised to Rs 268 and a for the first time in Gujarat we started paying a on-hand allowance of Rs 56.20 per day“, the minister said In response to a question asked by Congress MLA Imran Khedawala who pointed out that the highest minimum wages in the agricultural sector was Rs 410 being paid in Kerala.
Thakor said the Gujarat State Minimum Wages Advisory Board headed by Bhavnaben Joshipura has three representatives of labour workers and four representatives of industry. It had held met in 2016, 2017, five times in 2018 and once in 2019.
When asked by MLAs where the labourers who are not getting minimum wages can lodge complaints, the minister side-stepped the question and said, “I am also a farmer. Even today we find it difficult to get agricultural labourers. We are giving more than the minimum wages decided.” In between the minister’s reply Speaker Rajendra Trivedi asked the minister thrice where a complaint can be lodged. Thakor later said, “If a labourer complaints, our director of employment investigates.”
Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani said Gujarat, which claims to be number one in the country for the past 20 years, pays only Rs 224 per day to MNREGA workers.
“We are behind Haryana, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (in paying minimum wages.) As far as daily wages for agricultural labourers is concerned, Rs 178 per day was decided in 2016 and then we (Gujarat) were 20th among other states. If after it has been increased to Rs 268 as the minister said, we are still behind, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar. Do you plan to increase the minimum wages further for the 68 lakh agriculture labourers and what is the hours of employment for these labourers,” Dhanani asked.
In response the minister said, “Gujarat is number one in providing employment. The newly decided minimum daily wage is Rs 324.2. The working hours have not been mentioned.”
28.65 lakh agriculture labourers in state
In written replies given to various questions asked during the Question Hour, the state government said there were 28.65 lakh agriculture labourers in Gujarat of which 2.18 lakh were in Anand, 1.77 lakh in Vadodara and 1.58 lakh in Banaskantha districts.
The government said that in the last two years, 842 agricultural labourers died in accidents across the state. The maximum casualties was in Bhavnagar where 98 workers died.
During this two year period, 286 construction workers also perished.
There are more 6.65 lakh construction workers in the state, the government stated.