The premises of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here, on Monday, echoed with slogan-shouting agricultural labourers staging angry protests against irregularities in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the district.

The protest was organised by Spandana Society for Action and Change, Parivartan, the Rural Welfare Trust and Janjagaran, Jagruti of Khanapur and Vimukti of Chikkodi.

The protest follows a decision taken after the day-long discussions on the problems confronting the unemployed agricultural workers and those in unorganised sectors in rural areas held at “Gandhighar” (Gandhians’ ashram) at Devagiri on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti on October 2.

In a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, these organisations alleged that the villagers were not getting employment under the scheme when they needed it the most. Even if a few managed to get employment, it was only for a few days.

The other irregularities included delayed and part payment of the wages, lack of proper maintenance of attendance or job-cards and decisions taken in gram sabhas were not recorded and implemented.

The major problems were because of direct denial of employment under the scheme by the officials concerned in rural areas and several gram panchayats rejected applications from job seekers.

When women applied for jobs, they were asked to bring their men instead. Those denied job under the scheme were also not paid unemployment allowances.

The contractors used machinery for implementing the schemes, which was a violation of the rules.

When the representatives of the organisations led by social worker Dilip Kamat met zilla panchayat Chief Executive Officer Ekroop Caur and apprised her about these problems, the latter put the blame on the others stating that the people were not coming forward to take benefits under the scheme.

She said the scheme was “properly” working in the district. There was life or health insurance cover for workers when asked for such insurance benefits for workers employed for over 50 days.

“If such senior IAS officials are ignorant of such important government welfare measures, it only explained their height of irresponsibility and lack of concern for the people,” the protesters said.

The activists urged the district administration to take prompt and immediate action to implement the job scheme properly.

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