Dharna results in sanction of work order amounting to Rs. 61.74 lakhs under NREGA in Pathar Pratima Block, South 24 Parganas
Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) has been working for the proper implementation of NREGA programme which guarantees 100 days of work. West Bengal Government remains one of the worst performers nationally, and the South 24 Parganas district one of the worst in the state. Irregular flow of payments has been one of the major problems where money has not been released at the panchayat level leading to delayed wage payments and no work orders in the district.
Patharpratima Block of South 24 Parganas is one such example, where 4642 persons applied for work under NREGA since August 2008 in 11 Anchals in the block for 100 days of work for each household. Several meetings and deputations made by PBKMS with the Gram Pradhan, Executive Assistant, Panchayat Samity Sabhapati, Saha Sabhapati, BDO both at the block level and district level since August 2008 yielded no result. Out of 4642 persons, 208 people did not get a single day of work and the rest were given work ranging from a minimum of two days to a maximum of 20 days.
In view of the above inaction by the Block authorities, PBKMS workers gathered in numbers of about 700 and staged a dharna yesterday in Ramganga Block outside the BDO office in South 24 Parganas, with plans to continue indefinitely.
PBKMS had the following major demands, all of which were in keeping with the law:-
a) Provision of 100 days of work to every household who has applied for work under NREGA, within 31st March 2009
b) Work for all applicants must be in sites which are within 5 kms of their residences and/or where traveling costs are within 10% of the wages given
c) Women must be given work near their villages.
d) Special provision of work to be made for old people and handicapped.
e) Failure to open bank accounts can not be a pretext for not giving work under NREGA.
f) In case of failure to provide work, unemployment allowance to be given.
In addition, the Mid-day meal programme has not been running since the end of January in Pathar Pratima block. We demanded immediate resumption of the programme.
The dharna resulted in a meeting yesterday with the Saha Sabhapati, PWD Karmadakha, Joint BDO and BDO, where the following decisions were taken:
- Work orders were sanctioned under NREGA for 4918 workers amounting to 61.74 lakhs.
- 67 lakh rupees will be paid as wages to workers within a week to those whose wages were pending from the last financial year till now under NREGA.
- Dakshin Raipur Anchal Gram Panchayat had no plan of action for works under NREGA till now; new works will be identified today.
- Mid-day meals payments run by SHGs under SGSY program were due since August 2008 amounting to more than 26 lakh. They released Rs. 30,000 yesterday, with promises of releasing the entire amount within 31st March and resuming the program immediately.
In wake of the above decisions, PBKMS withdrew the dharna with a review meeting to be held on 14th March, and will accordingly decide to resume the dharna from 16th March.
Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity