Tura, Jan. 28: A block development officer in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills today gave in to public pressure and released funds meant for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which was pending since September last year.
The BDO of Dadenggre, Thera Marak, had to face the ire of angry villagers, as they had not received payment for the work completed under MGNREGA.
West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi said, “The BDO had called a meeting to explain to the village development councils the need to update the socio-economic census. But the villagers were not willing to do so, which led to heated arguments between the villagers and the BDO”.
The war of words lasted for about an hour after which the BDO finally decided to relent and release the payments.
Bakshi said after the argument, the BDO decided to clear wages for the month of June, July and August last year.
On the delay, Bakshi said, “Funds for the scheme are being allocated by the Centre.” Sources said job card holders in different blocks of the Garo hills have not received payments for about two years now.
A village development council from Dadenggre block, Markesh D. Sangma, said, “We have been struggling with non-payment of dues for long. It was beyond limits, so we had no option but to act against the BDO. We are assured of wages for 100 days and the government has to fix the wrongs that have been done.”
Sources in community and rural development department tell us that many blocks across Meghalaya are facing similar problems.
Payment for various other blocks in the Garo hills is also pending. West Garo Hills is yet to receive the money for the pending wages amounting to Rs 24 crore. East Garo Hills district won the best award for successful implementation of the scheme in 2012.
Selsella block in West Garo Hills has to clear wages amounting to Rs 14.7 crore. In many other blocks, payment for materials has been made but none for the wages.
A senior officer in C&RD department, who did not wish to be quoted, said, “We have been doing our bit ensuring that the paperwork for the funds are completed but the response from the Centre is not encouraging.”