Staff Correspondent

KOLAR: With the labourers from several villages cooking food and spending the night at the venue, the taluk panchayat office premises here has become a home for them. The impoverished workers from the rural areas have deliberately chosen this way to seek justice.

The incident has once again highlighted the loopholes in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGREGA), such as payment of wages to workers.

Hundreds of workers under the MGREGA have been in dharna since Monday. Led by MGREGA Implementation Committee, an umbrella organisation comprising KPRS, JMS, CITU and DYFI, the workers from several gram panchayats are demanding the settlement of wages which has been pending for six months.

They are also demanding an inquiry into the irregularities in the implementation of the job scheme.

“Labourers have been facing problems owing to long-pending arrears in wages. This situation was created due to negligence of concerned authorities,” KPRS district general secretary T.M. Venkatesh said.

Though non-payment of wages within a fortnight of the execution of the works is an offence under the job scheme guidelines, the authorities in the district are showing scant respect for the law, Mr. Venkatesh alleged.

Workers from Chitnahalli, Haleri, Jangamagurjenahalli, Veerapur, Beeramaranahalli, Kolaganjanahalli and other villages are taking part in the dharna. “If we are not paid our wages on time, how can we run our daily lives? Even as we are suffering from spiralling prices of essential commodities, the non-payment of wages has aggravated the situation,” Lakshmi, a labourer from Uppukunte village said.

‘No compromise'

The workers refused to withdraw the stir when the taluk panchayat Chief Executive Officer A. Manjunath assured them that the problem would be solved in a week's time. “We are fed up with official apathy as far as the payment of wages to MGREGA workers are concerned,” said Mr. Venkatesh. “There is no compromise till our demands are met.” The workers had staged a similar dharna in front of the ZP office a few days ago.