Don’t want Rs 5 hike: Jharkhand rural scheme workers return money to PM
Hundreds of workers from Manika in Jharkhand on Sunday came up with a novel way of registering their protest against the meagre hike of Rs 5 granted by the Union government under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.Updated: May 03, 2016 15:46 IST
Hundreds of workers from Manika in Jharkhand on Sunday came up with a novel way of registering their protest against the meagre hike of Rs 5 granted by the Union government under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).
The workers – on the occasion of Labour Day – sent over a hundred envelopes with five-rupee notes enclosed in them to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asserting that they could do without the government’s “generosity”.
In view of the ongoing drought, the Centre had increased the wages of workers in Jharkhand from Rs 162 to Rs 167. However, this failed impress the beneficiaries, given that the minimum wage for labour and non-NREGA work in the state comes up to Rs 212.
A report in The Telegraph said the envelopes were accompanied by a sarcastic thank-you note to Modi, in which the workers said they felt lucky to be considered eligible for the raise at all. “It sounds like NREGA workers in Odisha are very well-off because their wages were left untouched,” it said.
The note went on to express “concern” for the Centre’s financial plight. “Actually, we are very concerned. The government must be really short of money as it is unable to raise NREGA wages, and that too when one-third of the rural population is affected by drought,” it said, expressing hope that the money returned would keep the Prime Minister’s “corporate friends and government employees happy”.
“The government has probably done us a big favour by increasing the wages. In some other states, I am told, the increase is not even that... But we cannot accept such a raise. So we are sending the money back to the Prime Minister... Maybe he’ll have some use for it,” Kamlesh Oraon, a 65-year-old marginal farmer, was quoted by NDTV as saying.
The workers took out a protest rally under the banner of the Grameen Swaraj Mazdoor Sangh in Manika block, where slogans denouncing the meager hike were shouted. Members of other organisations, such as the Jharkhand Jan Sangram Morcha, Dalit Adhikar Suraksha Manch and the CPI(ML), were also present.
(With agency inputs)