Food security and people’s rights activists have alleged widespread violations of MGNREGA workers’ rights in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district.
Earlier this month, elected heads of panchayats (mukhiyas) of the same district had written to Union rural development minister Giriraj Singh demanding the cancellation of the attendance system through the mobile app in MGNREGA works as it was causing problems for villagers in network-shadow areas.
“We have been raising objection at various levels in the district but despite continuous complaints, widespread violation of the rights of MGNREGA workers continues in the district,” said Sandip Pradhan, a Right to Food activist in Sonua block of West Singhbhum district who was part of the delegation which submitted the memorandum to deputy development commissioner (DDC) of the district, Sandeep Bakshi.
“In the last few months, the workers in many villages have complained about non-availability of work, pending wage payment and complaints related to the national mobile monitoring system (NMMS) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) and we have been taking this up at various levels. But so far no action has been taken on most of the complaints. We again complained through our memorandum to DDC who is the nodal officer of MGNREGA works in the district,” said Siraj Dutta, a member of the delegation.
He said that workers desperately need work, but not a single rough plan has been implemented in many villages of the district for several months.
“Even after demanding work, not all workers are given work on time. The demand for unemployment allowance for such workers is also pending. In the last several months, the job cards of labourers in the district have been cancelled on a large scale citing the wrong reasons — unwillingness to work, death etc. — without informing them,” alleged the memorandum.
According to the memorandum, because of technical glitches in NMMS and AEPS, the payment of many labourers is pending.
On the other hand, with the connivance of middlemen and local administration, large-scale irregularities are being done by issuing fake muster rolls, because of which the work is visible on paper but not on the ground.