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NREGA workers: Pending wages worth Rs 6,800 crore, 14 states run negative balance

By Our Representative 

Three-day dharna of the rural jobs guarantee scheme workers, organised by the civil rights group NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, ended at Jantar Mantar in Delhi highlighting as many as 14 states are running a negative balance on National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) funds, and 64% of the budget for this financial has already been spent.
Speaking on the occasion, workers said, more than Rs 6,800 crore are due in wages to workers only for this year, and no payments have been cleared in West Bengal since December 2021. Workers from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh added, for weeks they work without pay, causing difficulty and distress to their families.
Objecting to the National Mobile Monitoring System application and other technological interventions for registration in NREGA, James Herenj, an activist with the Jharkhand NREGA Watch, spoke about non-functional, non-funded social audit units across states.
Adivasis from Gompad, Chhattisgarh, who had come for participating in the dharna, pointing towards their decade old ordeal, said, in 2009, security forces had massacred villagers, raped women and inflicted grievous injuries on children. Since then, they have been fighting for justice but neither have the perpetrators been punished nor have the victims been compensated.
They said, neither the State nor the Central government has acknowledged the police violence. The injustice against them reached new levels recently when the Supreme Court recently rejected their petition for justice and ordered a fine on the petitioners including activist Himanshu Kumar, they added.
Chandan Kumar, coordinating secretary, Working People’s Coalition (WPC), a coalition of informal workers’ unions from across India, said, migrant workers suffered the worst throughout the pandemic. He demanded for implementation of Employee State Insurance norms, which include healthcare, maternity benefits, and unemployment benefits for informal sector workers, along with housing for informal and migrant workers.
Present on the occasion, Kavita Krishnan of CPI(ML) said, the Modi government is targeting all voices that are protesting against the government’s Hindutva and "anti-people" policies. Supriya Sule of NCP, and J Venkatesan and Natarajan of CPI(M), assured workers that they would write to the Ministry of Rural Development and the Prime Minister’s Office on behalf of the rural workers.



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