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Protesters' police complaint indicts Modi: No NREGA wage transfer Oct 2018-Jan 2019

Counterview Desk
The NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM) organized a nation-wide protest on February 28, 2019, following which the protesting NREGA workers filed police complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allegedly for “fraud in NREGA wages of workers”. Alongside complaints at hundreds of police stations across the country, a petition was sent to Modi and the Union Minister of Rural Development for “immediate release” of Rs 25,000 crore for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) budget.

NSM note on the nationwide protest:

On February 28 NREGA workers across the country went to their local police stations to file FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was done as part of the National Day of Action called by the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country.
Thousands of NREGA workers from nine states, namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Chhatissgarh and Gujarat staged demonstrations and attempted to lodge an FIR at the nearest police stations against the blatant violation of law by the Central government in making MGNREGA payments. Workers across 50 districts in these nine states have gathered in almost 150 police stations to lodge their complaints.
The Government of India is the authority responsible for implementing the provisions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, (MGNREGA), 2005. As its head, it is incumbent on Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India to ensure that the law be followed in letter and spirit. However, the last five years have witnessed deliberate undermining of the Act, by allocating insufficient funds, not meeting the fund demand on time, delays in wage payments and thereby suppressing work demand.
If the work demand of the workers has to be fulfilled, at least Rs 88,000 crore should have been allocated towards the programme. However, insufficient funds have repeatedly resulted in holding back of payments of wages and demand not being met in critical periods of the year. This has caused immense hardships for workers and exacerbated the conditions of the most marginalised groups of citizens.
He has therefore been guilty of committing multiple offenses like making false promises to make workers work, cheating them of their wages and disobeying the law, especially the provisions of the MGNREGA, 2005, with intent to cause harm to the workers and their families.
And it is on the basis of this complaint thousands of workers across the country while waiting for their pending wages have decided to register FIR against the principal violator Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, under sections 116 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code and to take necessary steps to immediately arrest the wrong doer.
In the period between October 2018 to February 1, 2019, no Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) were processed in many states due to non-availability of funds for NREGA, forcing workers to wait for wages for months on end, even when the Act promises that wages will be given within 15 days of doing work.
Flagging this funds crisis in the NREGA, a letter has been sent to the Minister Rural Development from across the country through the District Magistrates (DMs) stating that the NSM demands that “… the Government of India should immediately release Rs 25,000 crore to fund NREGA work till June 2019, when the budget will be passed after the general elections.”
The rationale behind this demand is that, the initial allocation of FY 2018-19 of Rs 55,000 crore was long exhausted in January 2019, and owing to mounting pressure and criticism from MGNREGA workers, citizen campaigns, and Members of Parliament, additional funds to of Rs 6,084 crore were released to honour legal commitments to the programme.
Out of this, Rs 5,745 crore will go into clearing the pending liabilities as per the figures reflected in the government data (report number R7.1.1 on the Management Information System on nrega.nic.in). Therefore, there is practically no fund to fulfill the new demand in the peak period between January and March 2019.
It is ironic, that a Government which seems to have plenty of money to fund bullet trains and to compensate banks for NPAs of corporates who looted the banks, has no money to pay workers who have done their fair share of work and are now awaiting their wages.

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