Irked over being given less than half the promised wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), women workers staged a demonstration outside the office of the Kovilambakkam village panchayat near Tambaram on Thursday morning.

The women insisted that they be paid the full amount of Rs. 132 a day as promised, instead of the Rs. 60 they were being given for scooping out earth as part of deepening and desilting a pond in Kovilambakkam.

Work on the pond is being carried out by the village panchayat to increase its water-retention capacity.

A group of women belonging to a self-help group in the village were selected for the work under the NREGS. According to the protestors, they were initially promised Rs. 132 as daily wages, but when they completed work over the past two days, they were paid only Rs. 60 per person.

Stating that the government had let them down, they demanded that they be paid as originally promised by the elected representatives and scheme staff.

They submitted their grievances to elected representatives of the village panchayat, who said they could not interfere as the distribution of wages was being done by the scheme’s officials.

A section of the elected representatives, according to the protestors, had asked them to squat on the road to draw the government’s attention to their grievance.

They initially squatted at the Kovilambakkam market on Medavakkam Main Road, but were dispersed by police. They then gathered outside the office of the village panchayat and raised slogans in support of their demands.

Officials told mediapersons that this project was a group task and that the amount sanctioned for it would be divided equally among all the 20 women.

The wages were being given to them based on specific guidelines laid down by the government and the women were entitled to only Rs. 60 for work related to deepening and desilting.

Factors such as the time spent on the work, extent of the land on which the women had worked and the quantity of mud scooped were all taken into account before arriving at the wages, the officials said, adding that they had stuck to the rules while distributing the wages to the women and said there was no violation on their part.

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