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Cry for better work milieu

- Rural employment scheme and health mission fail to yield desired results in state

Ranchi, Jan. 28: Rural workers today demanded better work condition and paid leave, apart from timely wages, to boost the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Jharkhand, which has been lagging behind several states.

Around 3,000 villagers, who arrived in the state capital to take part in a convention, handed over a 16-point charter of demands to state rural development minister Chandra Shekhar Dubey in the presence of his cabinet colleague Yogendra Sao.

Organised by Poorest Area Civil Society (PACS), an NGO, MGNREGS labourers’ convention was also attended by Balram, state advisor to the Supreme Court Commissioner on Right to Food, and Gurjit Singh, an MGNREGS ombudsman. State manager of PACS Johnson Topno was also present.

The list of workers’ demands included drinking water and shed at work place, suitable work for disabled, pregnant women and old people. Also, they demanded a paid rest day after six days of work just like state and centre government employees. This apart, they demanded a month’s paid leave for pregnant women.

Dubey admitted that there had been several hiccups in rural work and promised to look into them. “I will look into the issues and try to address them,” Dubey promised.

The convention that was organised to highlight plight of MGNREGS workers saw many villagers coming forward to share their experience with the ministers and other government officials.

Sangu Pahadia from Sahebganj complained he had not received any work since 2007-08.

“Since then, we have been requesting gram panchayat and block officials to begin work for us, but we haven’t got anything till date. Also, we are yet to get wages for work that we did in 2007-08,” he added.