Reena Ramteke belongs to a remote village of 60 families in the district of Ghariaband in the state of Chhattisgarh in eastern India. The region that she lives in is heavily forested. Basic amenities like water, electricity and roads are lacking or altogether absent. Life is difficult, poverty is rife. The state is hell-bent on exploiting the forests and the…
In 2009, 22 daily wage workers toiled hard to build a main road through rural Chhattisgarh. The road would prove to be a boon for the neighboring villages facilitating transport and movement through the remote communities it helped connect. But 3 years later, the state continue to owe the workers a total of over Rs. 10,000/- in unpaid dues. They were employed under the Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which stipulates that they be paid within 15 days of completion of work. When questioned about the delay, the authorities continue to plead a unique case of bureaucratic and administrative confusion.
On the 1st of January 2012, the state of Chhattisgarh carved some of the more depressed regions of Raipur District into the separate brand new district of Gariaband. The reasons given for the segregation was that it would make the lives of the citizens easy - essential government services could be better monitored, separate schemes could be introduced to benefit the marginalized and people would have quicker, easier access to these. But an entire year later, the new offices are yet to clear the commitments of the older offices. The red tape is still held together by the glue of stuck time.
Kerabahara Village lies in the new district. Reena Ramteke, community media journalist who made the video on the worker's issues says that she has been time and again Rural Empowerment Department in the new office at Baloda Bazar pleading the worker's cause. Each time the officer has replied in promises of quick action only to follow them up with the aforementioned 'bureaucratic confusion'.
"He says that the search for the files is still currently on and he passes the blame to the older office in Abhanpur," says Reena. "But that doesn't solve the workers issues. The authorities are just being lazy and the system allows them to recline unquestioned. In my opiion, they are taking advantage of this reshuffle as an excuse to avoid doing their duties."
Call to Action: "Call the Officer at the Rural Employment Department, Bolada Bazar on +919424115999 and demand that he immediately pay the wages along with the compensation for the inordinate delay to the workers who built the Joba Main road.
If he promises you that he will look into it, tell him that you have seen a video shot last month where he did the same and ask him to stop delaying the process and get on it immediately."