New Delhi: In a Judgment that is set to add a burden of Rs 35000 crore to the Central Government exchequer, Karnataka High Court ruled that the wages given under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNERGA) cannot be less than the minimum wages fixed by state governments’ Minimum Wages Act.

The High Court clearly ordered all those states that have been paying lesser wages under MNERGA during 2009-10 and 2010-2011 to pay back the due amount of wages to the labourers.

After the High Court order, the Rural Development Ministry has started collecting data of differences between wages under Centre’s flagship rural job guarantee scheme and state governments’ Minimum Wages Act.

Speaking on the court order, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said, “The Centre would try to find a political solution rather than challenging the court ruling.”

Ramesh added that any final decision about paying wages to the labourers would be taken after assessing the whole situation.

Notably, the Central government had amended the rate of wages under MNERGA one year ago, despite that it is lesser than minimum wage fixed by states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan.