Thousands of workers, who had worked under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) last year, have been waiting for their wages for the past many months. The district administration, reportedly, owes about Rs 5.76 crore to them.
"We have been waiting for the payment of wages for the work done under the NREGA for over 10 months. We apprehend that both the state and the central governments are not interested to run the scheme. If there are no timely payments and undue delay in providing work, the labour would get disinterested in seeking work under the NREGA," alleged Balbir Singh Aulakh, president of the NREGA Labour Union, Faridkot.
"The Act envisages the workers would be provided work within 15 days after their written demand, for which a receipt is also issued. We want work from November to March and in May when there is little work in the fields. But sometimes the work under NREGA is delayed for about two months and the workers, seeking work under it, have to search work somewhere else," said Balbir.
According to him, there are more than Rs 5 core to be paid to the workers for the of work done last year.
"The scheme is beneficial because it provides work to thousands of people when they do not have it. Most of workers, who find work under this scheme, are women and elders. But, timely payment of wages is must," said Darshan Singh, former sarpanch of Dhilwan Kalan village.
"There about 270 workers from my villages who are waiting for the wages for many months. We have learnt that the state government has allegedly used the funds of NREGA workers for some other purpose," added Darshan.
Most of the funds to be released by the government are for the Kotkapura block. It owes about Rs 4.41 crore to NREGA workers while Faridkot block about Rs 1.35 crore, totaling Rs 5.76 crore.
Mohammad Tayyab, deputy commissioner, said that he has already written to the government for the release of the payment. "The payment is not made through the district authorities. The payment is made online and wages are transferred directly to the accounts of workers," he added.