Skip to main content

May Day: Hundreds of Jharkhand rural workers protest stagnating NREGA wages, payments rejection due to aadhaar

By Our Representative
Manika, a small towns in Jharkhand, celebration of International Workers’ Day on Tuesday in a unique way: An annual event, this year the rural workers in Manika agitated in a rally against the stagnation of the wages they get under the premier Government of India scheme floats by the previous UPA government under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).
The workers were unhappy because, two years ago, on the same day, hundreds of NREGA workers in Manika had sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with a five-rupee note, to protest against the meagre increase of NREGA wages in Jharkhand, from Rs 162 per day in 2015-16 to Rs 167 per day in 2016-17.
The Prime Minister did not respond. The following year, the NREGA wage in Jharkhand was raised by just one rupee (from Rs 167 to 168 per day), prompting NREGA workers to send another protest letter to the Prime Minister with a one-rupee coin. This year, the NREGA wage in Jharkhand was not increased at all.
Another "injustice", under which they are reeling, is the new phenomenon of “rejected payments” of the NREGA wage system. Delays in wage payments have affected NREGA workers for many years, but the rejection of payment orders is largely a new problem, created by the aadhaar-based biometric payment system.
According to the NREGA’s management and information system (MIS), close to Rs 500 crore of wage payments were rejected in the last financial year in the country as a whole. And in Manika’s overcrowded banks, no one is available to assist NREGA workers as they run from pillar to post for their meagre wages. Widows and old-age pensioners are also victims of this defective payment system.
This ordeal has prompted NREGA workers and pensioners in Manika to send a strong letter to Dr Urjit Patel, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, drawing his attention to the chaos that has spread in the banking system. The letter also demands ten immediate steps to address the problem.
Highlighting how NREGA workers and pensioners face “endless harassment” at banks when they go to withdraw what is owed to them, the letter says, they ara asked for a stream of documents, to go through e-KYC again and stand in line for hours.
Insisting that such technical problems be looked into immediately, the letter says, "Even when accounts are credited, workers and pensioners are often prevented from withdrawing money from their account until they link it with Aadhaar or comply with other formalities."
The letter underlines, "A public-sector bank should not be run for profit but for the benefit of the public and especially of poor people", demanding, "No account should be closed without informing the account holder. No one should be prevented from withdrawing money from their own account. A full-time help desk with computer and internet should be opened at the bank to assist people who are having problems with their bank account.
Among other demands raised at the protest are minimum wages of Rs 300 per day for NREGA workers, immediate payment of maternity entitlements (Rs 6,000 per child without conditions) under the National Food Security Act, no dilution of the SC/ST Atrocities Act, and strict action against those responsible for the recent murder of the gram Pradhan of Jungur village in Manika block.
The event began with a march across the town, with the participants wearing black bands to protest against the recent injustices done to NREGA workers and pensioners. The crowd then assembled at the block office for a public meeting. The meeting started with two minutes of silence in memory of all those who gave their life for workers’ rights over the years.  
James Herenj, convenor of NREGA Watch Jharkhand, explained the history and importance of International Workers’ Day. Rita Oraon, Birju Ram, Nagina Bibi, Anil Anshuman, Dheeraj Kumar and many others spoke about the growing attack on NREGA workers’ rights, the hardships endured by pensioners as they run from pillar to post for their meagre pensions, and also people’s efforts to organise for their rights in the area.Top Dalit rights leader Bezwada Wilson, convenor of Safai Karmachari Andolan, was a special guest at this event.
An initiative of Gram Swaraj Mazdoor Sangh, a local organisation of rural workers, aside from hundreds of NREGA workers, pensioners and other rural residents of Manika, the event was attended by many well-wishers as well as representatives of representatives of the CPI(ML), Right to Food Campaign and National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) among other organisations.

Comments

TRENDING

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.