Community Correspondent Pawan Solanki helps his community in getting jobs and stopping distress migration.
Septuagenarian Ram from Khorbani village of Badwani district, Madhya Pradesh was outraged at the condition he and his fellow villagers were in. “There is no work here, no livelihood. What will people do? They have all left,” he fumed. Community Correspondent Pawan Solanki made the issue video about the hardships of the tribal villagers in this small hamlet nestled in the Satpura range in January 2016. At that time, most villagers were compelled to migrate to Gujarat to look for jobs paying meagre daily wages. This, despite the government’s promise to provide 100 days of paid work per year to at least one member of every rural household under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
With a budget of 38,500 crore rupees in 2016-2017, which has further increased in the 2017-18 budget, MGNREGA is the largest social welfare and public works scheme benefitting 182 million people. The act brings together the creation of rural infrastructure with providing employment, and has been instrumental in increasing rural wages and benefitting marginalised sections like women, Adivasis and Dalits. At the same time, reports and research of the suboptimal performance due to administrative feet dragging and outright corruption has plagued the scheme.
Pawan got the community together to fight for their rights. Together they sat down and wrote an application to the local panchayat for jobs under the scheme. As Pawan reveals, just get the officials to register the village residents as beneficiaries in the muster roll took a lot of time and repeated visits. But the Correspondent and the community were in this together for the long haul. Finally, five months after they had applied for the jobs, the forty-five people in Khorbani who had asked for work were given work for 12 days.
The work given them involved preparing agricultural fields around the villages. Phirangi, a beneficiary, happily reports “Pawan was with us throughout our struggle. This work will benefit both farmers and farm labourers. We hope we continue to get work in future and prompt payments.” It is because of untiring efforts from activists like Pawan who ensure grassroots monitoring of government schemes, that marginalised communities can access the promised benefits.
Article by Madhura Chakraborty