Work under MNREGA is our right and not your charity, rural labourers tell Kalaburagi ZP officers

November 15, 2021 06:10 pm | Updated 10:53 pm IST - KALABURAGI

Rural labourers during a protest in Kalaburagi on Monday.

Rural labourers during a protest in Kalaburagi on Monday.

After being denied their rightful work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), hundreds of rural labourers from different villages across the district staged a demonstration outside the zilla panchayat office here on Monday.

The labourers alleged that the Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs) in several gram panchayats had denied work to them even after submitting applications and completing all the procedures as per the Act.

They demanded that Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dileesh Sasi take action against delinquent PDOs. Some of the protesting women even complained that the PDOs simply did not accept their applications for jobs.

“Getting work under MNREGA is our lawful right and not your charity. It is your responsibility to give work to the people who seek job under the Act within 15 days of receiving the application and make payment within 15 days of completion of work,” Abhay Kumar, a leader of Grameena Koolikaarmikara Sanghatane (GRAKOOS), an organisation of rural labourers, that led the agitation, told the ZP officers at the protest site.

Mr. Sasi called a few representatives of the labourers to his chamber and discussed the issues in detail for about an hour. He later sent some of his officers, including Zilla Panchayat Deputy Secretary Mohammad Ismail, Kalaburagi Taluk Panchayat Executive Officer Manappa Kattimani and Assistant Director of Pundit Sindhe, to the protest site to address the grievances on the spot. As the officers sat with the protestors, the women began pouring out their problems related to the job scheme and complained against the PDOs who, they said, denied their work.

The officers in question immediately summoned some of the PDOs and put them across the protesting people to address issues.

When Mr. Kattimani pointed out a couple of minor errors in the application and asked the protest leaders to educate them on the procedure, Mr. Abhay countered by asking the officer to first sensitise the PDOs and other officers in the gram panchayat on MNREGA provisions.

“Your local officers are denying work to the people in need. When PDO is not in his office, other functionaries in the gram panchayat are not even accepting applications for jobs. The local officers are not giving work even several weeks after submitting the applications. Most of the PDOs have not even read the provisions of MNREGA even 14 years after the Act was enacted. First, sensitise your officers on the Act before educating the poor labourers,” Mr. Abhay told the officer.

Mr. Abyay also demanded the officers to allow rural labours to raise their MNREGA-related issues in the PDO meetings that were regularly held so that the problems would be addressed in the presence of higher officers.

The labourers later submitted a list of gram panchayats in the district that denied the work under the job scheme to the ZP officers for their perusal.

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