MGNREGA job-card holders of Phumlou Gram Panchayat Ward No III have demanded the authorities concerned not to use excavators on MGNERGA related works, and urged to provide manual works to them without discrimination.
A letter submitted to district programme coordinator and programme officer, Imphal West appealed to direct the pradhan and member of Phumlou GP to stop using excavators and provide manual works to ameliorate the financial distress faced by poor job card holders due to COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 22, at around 9 am, as informed earlier by the Ward Member of their Panchayat, they came to do their work, it stated. On reaching the worksite, they were informed that the work was for improvement of canal and singling. However, they were told that the work was to be executed in 18 days and that excavators would be used to execute the work and as such, the wages from all job card holders will be deduced for eight days, it added.
While some protested the said proposal, other job card holders were in favour of the said proposal and there was a division of opinion. A total of 52 job card holders are against the said proposal.
The letter mentioned that on August 23, the job card holders who were against the proposal of executing the work by using an excavator, went to the house of the Ward Member of Ward No III, Phumlou Gram Panchayat and requested him to allow them to do the manual work.
Consequently, they were allotted to work at the work site and they began their manual work. While they were working, Zilla Parishad Member and GRS visited the work site and they took photographs at two different places and they left the place, it stated.
On the next day, i.e. August 24, they went to the work site to continue their manual work. Before starting the work, they were told that they were to dig a canal having five feet wide and five feet depth on the upper part of the existing canal, it mentioned.
Further, they were told that the work will require moving dugout earth to a place, which is seven meters away from the canal, it mentioned. On sensing some foul play, job card holders insisted to show the estimate of the work, the letter stated.
On examination of the estimate of the work, they learned that there is no portion of singling and the same is to be executed for 6 kilometres, it added. “As the officials of the Panchayat could not put forward necessary explanation, we stopped execution of work and decided to lodge a complaint to the Pradhan,” it further stated.
It stated that the job card holders lodged a complaint to the Pradhan, Phumlou Gram Panchayat and they were told to wait till 8 am on August 25.
However, the Pradhan did not furnish any information after expiry of the dateline and as such they made a phone call to the Pradhan to ascertain his response, it stated.
Ultimately, the Pradhan, instead of redressing the grievances of the Job Card Holders, informed them that he would not be able to redress their grievances.
It stated that the job card holders are apprehensive that they would be compelled to do manual work which is not incorporated with the estimate of the work programme in order to harass them for not agreeing to their proposal of using excavators.
Further, the Panchayat authority would start executing work using excavators within a couple of days leaving behind job card holders unemployed in a clear defiance of the MGNREGA operational guidelines, the letter stated.
In earlier instances also, the functionaries of the Panchayat used excavators while executing MGNREGA work and swindled wages of the job card holders, it added