About 3,000 tribal women and children would gather at the Barwani district headquarters on December 3 to demand payment of wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) that are allegedly pending since last several months.
The women and children, to be supported by men from different tribal settlements in the district, would be demanding that either they be paid the due wages or put in jails. The demonstration would be held under the aegis of Jagrit Adiwasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS).
"Without wages, our families are on the verge of starvation. But we do not want to die silently in our villages. If we have to die, we would die struggling for our demands and before the eyes of the administration," Bilati Bai, a member of the sangathan said at a press conference on Sunday.
Bilati Bai, Duna Bai, Nasri Bai, Wal Singh and Har Singh -- all members of the organisation -- charged that they have not been paid the wage since last seven to eight months and in some cases, wages from work done during the last financial year were also pending.
They also said that when they checked the online expenditure details of the MNREGS, they found huge irregularities including expenditure on works never undertaken, false expenditure on material cost, change in details of worksites and others. In a single panchayat (Limbi), the false expenditure was found to be to the tune of Rs 50.46 lakh. "This is while the pending wages for the workers in the Panchayat is merely Rs 17 lakh," Wal Singh of Limbi charged.
"The administration is saying that they can't make payments because the state hasn't received funds from the Union government. The funds have been blocked because of the failure of the government to submit the accounts and social audit records. We are asking why should the poor workers suffer for lapses on the part of government?" Madhuri of the JADS said. She said that the tribal families would be fighting to the end to get their dues.