Chitrakoot (UP): In the drought-affected Basiniha village in Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot district, the situation is so bad that the villagers survive on a single roti a day. Despite this, Munni Devi was not eager to take up employment at a NREGA work site when an offer was recently made.
There is a simple reason for Munni Devi’s reluctance – she has not yet received wages for the nearly 20 days of work she completed about a year ago at another NREGA work site, leaving her disheartened and destroyed her faith in such work.
Such is the case for several other women in Basiniha too. They have toiled for days, some up to three weeks, but have still not been paid.
Heightening an already murky situation, the women were told the money would be deposited in their bank accounts in the Allahabad Gramin Bank and Tulsi Bank, but the banks told them the deposited amount had had been withdrawn. They still do not know what happened.
In the neighbouring Basor Dalits settlement too are there complaints of long-delayed wages. In Hardha village of the Goiya Khurd panchayat, some says their wages have been unpaid for nearly three years now. Some villagers say they worked at NREGA sites, while others mention minor irrigation works.
“In our panchayat we’ve about 40 to 50 persons who have not received wages from NREGA work or other government work during the term of the previous panchayat,” says Ram Shiromani, Pradhan of Semra panchayat.
The situation is the same in the Mau and Manikpur blocks, which have a high concentration of Kol adivasi population.
Almost all workers in these villages are extremely poor and had relied on the government scheme for work and payment. Most have repeatedly tried to get their wages, but their persistence has not borne any result yet.
However, it is still not too late to salvage the situation if the authorities take determined steps to clear all pending payments in these villages. An effective way to ensure this is to assign the responsibility at the district magistrate or similar level.