Munnur labourers continue to wait for MGNREGS wages

Wages are not given to labourers even after 38 days

On the one hand, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had raised concern over zero progress in MGNREGA in the last two months, at a meeting of the zilla panchayat CEOs and Deputy Commissioners, in Bangalore two days ago.

On the other hand, labourers in Munnur gram panchayat are waiting for their wages for the last 38 days.

Though 52 households with 55 persons including over 45 women have taken up the work on removing silt from a canal at Thevula in Munnur gram panchayat, utilising the funds available under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the labourers who had toiled hard in the summer have not received wages for the work, even after 38 days.

The canal passes through Konaje, Belma, Amblamogaru and Munnur gram panchayats.
With this, the MGNREGA, the Union government’s flagship poverty alleviation scheme, is in danger of floundering in the district. The gram panchayat had initiated the work at a time when all the gram panchayats were denying work citing the reason of model code of conduct.

“The delay in payment of wages affected our morale to take up other work,” said a labourer. The labourers have taken up 1,230 man days of work under the project. The work had commenced in April and was completed in the first week of May.

“With the silt filling the canal, there was artificial flood in the region during every monsoon. The artificial flood was inundating the farm land, and thus incurring loss to the farmers.

Hence, we had decided to take up the work on desilting of the canal before the onset of monsoon. With the shortage of water, the farmers could not grow paddy twice in a year. The removal of silt will help in storing water by constructing bunds,” said a labourer.

“We have submitted an application seeking release of wages to the Panchayat Development Officer, who in turn had said that the funds were not released to the gram panchayat itself to make the payment. We have also demanded compensation for delay in payment of wages,” she said.

As per the Act, if the wages are not paid within time frame, then labourers are entitled for compensation under Payment of Wages Act 1936. The wages should be paid within 15 days.

“The delay in payment of wages will not create interest to take up work under the Act. We were rolling beedies to earn our livelihood. With the implementation of MGNREGA, we stopped rolling beedis and started public work under the Act. With the delay in payment, we neither get earnings from  rolling beedi nor from MGNREGA,” she said.

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