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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

No wages since July leave MGNREGS workers in Punjab in a lurch

As many as 6.27 lakh workers from 5 lakh households are engaged this year in 22 districts of Punjab under MGNREGS, the central rural job scheme, which guarantees 100 days of unskilled employment per family.

punjab Updated: Sep 12, 2019 13:16 IST
Vishal Joshi
Vishal Joshi
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
People working under the MGNREGA scheme at village at Bathinda, Punjab.
People working under the MGNREGA scheme at village at Bathinda, Punjab. (File Photo )
         

Hundreds of workers of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Punjab have not received wages since July with officials calling it a procedural delay, saying the state has “overachieved the target of man-days” given by the Union ministry of rural development for the first six months.

As many as 6.27 lakh workers from 5 lakh households are engaged this year in 22 districts of the state under the central rural job scheme, which guarantees 100 days of unskilled employment per family.

State rural development department officials said Rs 114 crore -to be released by the Centre - have not been paid to workers since July.

A district official said the delay in wages was noticed after enrolled workers started lodging complaints and threatened to boycott rural works.

Sahib Ram, 62, of Chananwala village in Fazilka district, said he has not been paid wages for the last eight weeks. “In the absence of payment, I am unable to make both ends meet. District officials said they were unaware when the wages will be transferred into my bank account,” said Ram.

Baj Singh, district president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, Muktsar, said even as the scheme, which is aimed to provide an alternate source of income for rural people, has yielded results in some key areas, the issue of delay in payment remains an irritant.

Officials said as per rules workers are entitled to payment of wages within a fortnight of the date on which the work is done, failing which the worker is entitled to compensation.

But there is no clarity if the enrolled workers will get it, said another functionary.

MGNREGA (Punjab) joint development commissioner Tanu Kashyap said the target for the first six months of the current financial year was 84 lakh man-days which got over in July.

She said the state was able to provide more work but due to procedural reasons, funds allocation was delayed. “The Central authorities have assured to assess the financial situation and allot funds this week,” she added.

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 13:16 IST