The panchayat of Tamkot village in this district will be honoured by the Union ministry of rural development on February 2 for their performance in implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in 2014-15. One of the only panchayats of the district governed by the CPI (ML), it was also honoured with the Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar last year by the Union ministry for its visionary work in 2014-15.
While the state government has been criticised for not creating enough job opportunities, village sarpanch Ranjit Singh has ensured that most families in the village have at least one employed member. “After the recent agrarian crisis, I issued job cards to most landless farmers and labourers who can avail benefits of the schemes under the Punjab Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. I have provided jobs to 499 people under the scheme while 600 were employed under MGNREGA,” Ranjit said.
HT found that farmers who owned less than five acres were the prime beneficiaries of the scheme under MGNREGA. Under this, the village panchayat constructed an electronic crematorium, one of its kind in the district. Other notable works under the scheme include maintenance of the graveyard, and renovation of village pond and government high school.
State govt ignored Left-backed panchayat
The panchayat alleged that despite their sincere efforts being recognised by the Centre, the state government had not been kind to them. The panchayat has not received any felicitation by the district administration on Republic or Independence Day in the past two years. Even Union food processing minister Harsimart Kaur Badal representing Bathinda in Parliament, who has held several sangat darshan programmes in Mansa district, has not visited the village in the past two years.
A panchayat member said, “Neither the state government nor the district administration has ever acknowledged our efforts. The only assistance we received was from deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who had given us Rs 5 lakh at a sangat darshan held in a nearby village. Harsimrat, who has visited several villages after the Lok Sabha elections, has not given a single paisa to our panchayat for developmental work. The district administration, which keeps showering praises on its employees at public functions, has never recognised our effort. The indifferent attitude of the government is most disturbing, the reason being we have a Left-backed panchayat.”
The panchayat members alleged that shrinking the activities under MGNREGA had hurt the labour class badly. Ranjit said, “The bills and grants under the scheme are not cleared swiftly, which leads to delayed payment to labourers. Now, most of the construction and renovation work is outsourced to private companies, which is a worrying factor.”
The deputy commissioner could not be reached for comment.