Yuri Alemao, Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly on Tuesday attacked the BJP government in the state, alleging that it had failed to pay 8,000 Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) workers for the last five months. This includes 45 per cent Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. Alemao said the government has money to organise events but not to pay the poor their rightful dues.
He said the financial and administrative bankruptcy of the BJP government once again stands exposed with almost 8,000 workers, who earn Rs 322 per day under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), not having been paid their justified salary for the last five months.
Yuri Alemao alleged that this is the ‘Ant’ (end) of the BJP government. The Congress leader demanded that Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant should intervene immediately to release all pending dues of workers. “The government has no right to keep pending payments of hardworking workers who meet their (daily) needs with daily earnings,” the Goa leader of opposition said.
“The BJP government spends crores on events without any financial approvals but fails to pay poor workers. It is shocking that poor workers put in their sweat and blood to earn daily wages but the insensitive BJP government is just not bothered to pay their daily wages in time,” Alemao said.
“There are almost 8,000 active card holder workers in the state. Almost 42.45 per cent workers are from Scheduled Tribes while 2.48 per cent belong to Scheduled Castes. Is this part of the BJP government’s strategy to harass the ST and SC Community?” Alemao questioned.
He said further, “It is mandatory for the government to provide minimum 100 days’ work to the registered MGNREGA workers. Unfortunately, many workers are not getting 100 days to work due to the failure of the BJP government to give timely approvals to various projects and works.”
Yuri Alemao further alleged that the BJP government has a lot of money to spend on events but when it comes to helping the needy and the poor, its treasury gets empty.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 or MGNREGA, earlier known as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or NREGA, aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’. This act was passed on 23 August 2005 and was implemented in February 2006 under the UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, following tabling of the bill in Parliament by the Minister for Rural Development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to at least one member of every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
Women are guaranteed one third of the jobs made available under the MGNREGA. Another aim of MGNREGA is to create durable assets (such as roads, canals, ponds and wells). Employment is to be provided within 5 km of an applicant’s residence, and minimum wages are to be paid. If work is not provided within 15 days of applying, applicants are entitled to an unemployment allowance.
That is, if the government fails to provide employment, it has to provide certain unemployment allowances to those people. Thus, employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement.
Apart from providing economic security and creating rural assets, other things cited to promote NREGA are that it can help in protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.