Skip to main content

NREGA workers protest 'persistent delay' in wage payment, no redressal on injury, death

By Our Representative 

About 500 workers who have been regular users of the rural guarantee jobs scheme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), have protested in New Delhi against “persistent delays” in wage payments. Sitting on a dharna organised by the civil rights group NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, many of them gave testimony of how they did not get work when they demanded it, and how no compensation was provided when they were injured or killed at workplace.
Hailing from 15 states, mainly from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, they gathered in Jantar Mantar. Many of them raised concern regarding the introduction of the NMMS app for attendance at worksites and other technological interventions making it difficult to work in NREGA.
Several workers’ delegations visited the MPs of their states to share their grievances and demands. Memoranda and the charter of demands were presented to R Krishnaiah (YSRCP), Uttam Kumar Reddy (INC), Dhiraj Sahu (INC), Diya Kumari (BJP) and Jagannath Sarkar (BJP). The documents were also submitted to the Samajwadi Party office.
“Some of the MPs received the charter of demands and some of them expressed their support and assured to raise it in Parliament”, an NREGA Sangharsh Morcha communique said. D Raja, General Secretary of the CPI. and Kavita Krishnan of the CPI-ML attended the dharna and endorsed all the demands.
Currently, said the communique, more than Rs 21,850 crore of wages are pending since April 2020 1. This year’s pendency is already Rs 6,800 crore. In particular, no wages for West Bengal have been processed since December 2021 and current dues are above Rs 2,500 crore.
The Morcha said, an analysis done of 18 lakh wage invoices of the first half of FY 21-22 showed that only 29% of payments were processed within the mandated seven day period by the Government of India (GoI).
Pointing out that there is enough evidence suggesting that inadequate funds allocation lead to wage delays, it added, as of July 31, 66.4% of the budget has already been spent with eight months remaining in the FY. Corruption in NREGA is a genuine concern and social audits have been mandated primarily to curtail corruption.
Speaking on the occasion, Rakshita Swamy of NGO Safar and Karuna M of PHM Tamil Nadu highlighted how funds for social audits have been curbed by the GoI themself. In a circular dated 5th January 2022, the Ministry of Rural Development said that social audits are a “pre-requisite” for fund release to States. On the one hand, the GoI is curtailing funds for NREGA on grounds of increased corruption and on the other, it has curtailed funds for social audits.
They added, the alarming situation of food insecurity in the country and the need for greater investments in food entitlement was highlighted. Workers spoke about the difficulties in affording even two meals a day due to high inflation with a gas cylinder costing more than Rs 1,000. Mandvi, a worker from Bihar, asked to end the “Ram Mandir politics” and ensure food security. 
Demands were raosed to universalise the public distribution system (PDS) and have quotas for the National Food Security Act (NFSA) based on 2022 population projections to be in compliance with Supreme Court orders. Further PDS must include pulses, millets and oils. Also, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) must be extended till such time that the pandemic continues.



'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

Right to health and informed consent: Why 'revisit' Mission Indradhanush?

By Deepika*  Extending on to the subject of Misleading ads and acting responsibly , another aspect that needs highlighting is our right to health and to be made aware of quality of products, as pointed out by the Supreme Court.

Indian authorities 'evading' discussion on battery energy storage system

By Shankar Sharma*  In the larger context of the ever growing need and importance of renewable energy sources for a sustainable energy/ electricity sector in our country, the critical role of energy storage systems, especially the battery energy storage system (BESS), is being emphasised frequently at the global level, such as the one by  the International Energy Agency (IEA). Unfortunately, our authorities in India seem not to attach the same level of importance, which the BESS deserves.