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'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative 

In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister.
Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments.
While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested. 
In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entitlement demands such has timely payment of wages, work on demand, compensation for late payment, unemployment allowance etc., it was added.
Around Rs 2,800 crore are pending from the Centre for providing wages this financial year, and around Rs 1,984 crore are pending from previous FY. The average increase in NREGA wage rate across the country isa measly 4.25% whereas the Union government employees and pensioners get a dearness allowance (DA) of 31%.
About 77% of the budget of NREGA has already been spent in the first five months. As many as 16 states are already in negative net balance condemning workers to “forced labour” by delaying wage payments. By now there is incontrovertible evidence that inadequate funding leads to massive delays in wage payments.
Only Rs 883.24 crore is left from the actual budget with six months remaining in the current financial year. This does not include the expenditure on payment dues that have incurred and must be cleared. Flagging this funds crisis and huge pending liabilities, various actions took place across the country today.
Even the Ministry of Finance has acknowledged this. Around 600 NREGA workers and their supporters from 14 states gathered at Jantar Mantar on 2nd, 3rd and 4th August, 2022 under the banner of NREGA Sangharsh Morcha to raise these issues and to demand the right to life with dignity.
During the national action, the workers from Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan raised questions on the kind of development where tribals are subjected to displacement and migration due to unemployment and debt.
Workers came came to the streets in eight districts of Karnataka against the imposition of various measures like app-based attendance system that is keeping the workers away from their wages and work. Kaam Do Abhiyan was carried out in various panchayats of Panchmahal district by the Devgadh Mahila Sangathan in Gujarat.
Workers from Thapapali, Sambalpur (Odisha), highlighted that despite the work being completed last year, they have not received the wages. After writing to ombudsperson and filing RTI, they found out that they have been expunged from the list.
Kaam Do Abhiyan was carried out in various panchayats of Vaishali and Muzaffarpur in Bihar. In Kaam Do Abhiyan of Gundala village, Gondal block (Gujarat), muster roll was issued for work and 41 households got work. Members of the Dalit Bahujan Front met with MLA from Siddipet district to raise issues of pending wages worth 450cr in the state, low budget allocation in NREGA and labour rights.
In West Bengal, members of Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity filed complaints in various police stations under sections 417 (cheating) and 418 (cheating despite knowing the loss) of the Indian Penal Code against the program officers (BDOs) of the NREGA project in 25 different blocks of 7 districts , accusing them of cheating NREGA workers of their wages.
On behalf of the Samity, a complaint was filed against Nagendra Nath Sinha, secretary, Rural Development Department, Central government, at Madhyamgram Police Station because the Central government has withheld the wages of the workers for the past 9 months and NREGA work in the state has come to a standstill due to which the common workers are suffering.



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