He completed the work allotted to him under MGNREGA last year, but Boteram Yadav from Sonakukanar village is still waiting for his pay. “I was assured Rs. 157 per day for helping construct a road, but I haven’t been paid yet,” he said. “But I want to work under MGNREGA again. Some villagers received their wages within a few months of working.” Sonadhar, another villager, is one such example: he said he received his wages on time.
Former Deputy Sarpanch of the village Ramsingh explains the irregularity. “Construction of two roads and soil levelling work was done in our village after May last year under MGNREGA. All the villagers received full payment except for those who worked on the second road,” he said. He added that “difficulties” have increased in MGNREGA works and wage distribution in the last one year.
Jalrodi, another village in Chhindgad block of Sukma, shows another facet of the breakdown of MGNREGA. A cement board erected at the entrance of the village reads that a “CC” (cement concrete) road has been constructed from the place of the board to a temple on the other side of the village. However, there is no sign of any “CC” road even 400 meters from the board. When asked about this, Jaggnath Kashyap, a BJP worker, said, “While the beginning of the road is far away from the specified starting point, it ends far before the temple. Also, even though the board says that Rs.157 wage was paid to each labourer per day, we received only Rs.120.” No work has happened over the past one year, Mr. Kashyap added.
Most of the villagers in Sukma and Chindgad block of the district reported “irregularities and delay” in the wage payment or that no work has been allotted in the last one year.
Local MLA Kawasi Lakhma backs their claims. “Wages for the work done over the last six months have not been disbursed. In some cases, wages for the work done over a year are still pending. I raised the matter in our divisional meeting with Cabinet Minister Kedar Kashyap, but no wage was paid even after that,” he said.
The District Collector Niraj Bansod refuted all the allegations. “All wage payments have been made in Sukma for the work done under MGNREGA until now. In the peak season, the district provides employment to 15,000 workers under the scheme. For 2014-15, Rs. 12-14 crore was spent under MGNREGA work,” he told The Hindu.
On the complaints of villagers about the lack of works under MGNREGA, the collector said that for a period of 6-7 months in the last one year, no MGNREGA work was done in Sukma. This was because of local body and panchayat elections and paucity of funds. “But for the next year we have proposed works for around Rs. 32 crore,” he clarified.
Regarding non-payment of wages, he said the villagers might be demanding wages for work which was initiated without “proper administrative sanctions”. The “quantitative and qualitative fluctuations” in wages may have generated these complaints, he said.