MGNREGA Aiding Migration

As per provisions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, each registered worker is ensured a minimum 100 days of work in a year and full payment of their wages at the end of the work. The projects include anything from laying a road to digging a well. MGNREGA's three pronged approach aims to generate rural employment, build community assets and curb migration. The scheme has been the Congress led UPA government's flagship scheme for nearly a decade and has cost taxpayers something to the tune of USD 900 billion a year! Our Community Correspondent Abhishek Kumar Dash reports from Odisha and gives a glimpse into just how mismanaged the scheme currently is. In Dumerpani village of Nuapada district, seven workers have not yet received their wages for a project they completed 10 months ago. "We have not received our wages for that 'emergency' work. I got only Rs.756 of Rs 35000 due to me. Haladhar Majhi got Rs. 10,000 of Rs. 35,000 due. We don't know where the rest of the money went. Kumar Singh Dharua got Rs.21,000 from Rs.35,000," says Milu Majhi, a resident who had worked on the project. The residents of Dumerpani are not the only ones who have faced this problem. There are more people from the neighbouring villages-- 3 people from Rengabahal and 21 from Hatisena village-- continue to chase after their payments. The situation here exemplifies a lot of what is wrong with the MGNREGA. Correspondent Abhishek thinks that instead of mitigating problems around rural employment the scheme is making them worse. "A lot if people migrate from this area we live in. People from here go outside (to other states) in the search of work. If they don't get work in their village or if they are not paid for 10 months then why will they not migrate? In a way they are forced to migrate. One of the objectives of the Government when implementing MGNREGA was to curb migration" he says. In this case, even after receiving and completing a project the workers continue to tun around from office to office in search of the payment due to them. A frustrated Milu Majhi reveals: "First we went to local emergency office. Then we submitted an application at the office of the District Rural Development Agency. We also gave the application to Raj Dholkia, the local Member of the Legislative Assemby. At the end we met the Block Development Officer. He assured us of giving us wages within 15 days. Even after so many days there is nothing." The worst part in all of this is the fact the MGNREGA is a mechanism with a lot of potential. If the various agencies involved in it from the top brass to low level clerks were able to remove the corruption and the bureaucratic delays it is riddled with, think of the millions of rural farmers and labourers who would benefit. They would have secure infrastructure in their villages and money in their pockets. Today, you can help set some of this right. CALL TO ACTION: Call Mr. Radheshyam Padhi, Block Development Officer on his mobile number +91 - 9439774404 and pressurize him so that all these villagers of Dumerpani village get their dues immediately.

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