Shankarlal Raikwar belongs to a community that dances at festivals and carnivals for a living; he is also a farmer and a Community Correspondent. Shankarlal is an expert in performing feminine roles especially from mythological texts like the Mahabharata. He is proud of his art but unfortunately it makes him a point of ridicule in society. He is also worried…
In 2011, 25 locals were employed under the government's rural employment guarantee act for building a road that passes through the Chilla village of Khajeria Block in Lalitpur District of Uttar Pradesh. They worked through the summer, hauling mud, paving the road. This much-needed road has become the lifeline of the people, connecting their homes to their fields and the highway. But more than a year has passed. The 25 laborers who put in their sweat and blood are yet to be paid.
Khajeria is a marginalized a region. Development is miles away and employment is in short supply. Most find seasonal work as farm laborers during the harvest. But for the rest of the year, the people are hard pressed to put food across the table. The government's Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was a ray of light which came with promises of guaranteed employment and unemployment welfare. Even as reports of mismanagement of the project pour in from across the nation, the state of Uttar Pradesh sticks out for its sheer unscrupulousness. From non-payment of wages to fake bills to faking the work itself, UP's MGNREGA scam is estimated to have drained a whopping Rs. 10,000 crore from the public funds. But the true cost is being borne by the most vulnerable like the 25 laborers of Chilla.
"This is a land of great poverty," says Community Correspondent Shankarlal Raikwar who produced a video on them. "Every rupee counts here. It means food for the family, forewood against the heat and a roof on the head. These 25 laborers are owed a total of Rs. 35,000/- by the government. You can just imagine the expectation and desperation of the people."
Shankar has been helping the villagers in their struggle but the officials, he says, are as apathetic as a brick wall. They have appealed time and again but each time the officials would make an excuse.
"The money is being processed.", "Payments have been delayed.", "We'll pay you next month.. the month after.. next for sure ... we'll pay you when we receive our next project."
The MGNREGA stipulates that payment should be made within 15 days of the completion of the job.
"This is a grave injustice," says Shankarlal. "These people must be paid. And they must be paid with interest for the delay."
Call to Action: “I appeal to the viewers of my video to call Block Development Officer Vinod Kumar on +919415484271 and the Village Development officer on +919936072627"
Tell him that you have seen and heard about the corruption in MGNREGA system which is leading an entire community who lives in Chilla village, Khajeria Block to starvation.
Ask him to look into the matter immediately and redress the issue.
Ask him that the people who have worked on the road be paid their dues along with interest as compensation for the delay.