BHUBANESWAR: Even as politics over delayed release of MGNREGS funds is heating up, it has emerged that the State government has failed to provide work to the needy under the Centrally- sponsored scheme. Sources said work was demanded by a record 34.9 lakh households last fiscal and only 29.2 lakh families were given work. The participation of women, differently-abled and schedule caste in the scheme is also low in the State. While only 32.2 per cent of registered SC households participated in MGNREGS against the national average is 38.5 per cent, 46 per cent of person days were by women as compared to the national average of 54 per cent.
Although close to three per cent of Odisha’s population is differently-abled, only 0.3 per cent of the rural job scheme’s registered workers are persons with disabilities against the national average of 0.4 per cent. This apart, there is a high prevalence of rejected payments that are denying workers their wage. As around 1.2 per cent of the transactions are rejected, Rs 102 crore of last five financial years rejected wages are yet to be credited to workers’ accounts.
Delay in payment processing is depriving workers of a timely wage as 48.5 per cent of the payments took more than seven days to be processed. Surprisingly, this is not considered as an official delay on the system leading to lack of compensation to workers.
Odisha Khadya Adhikar Abhijan (OKAA) and Odisha Shramajeebee Manch (OSM) that are spearheading movements on right to food and right to work in the State have urged the State government to focus on planning a sufficient shelf of works, taking steps to include workers from minority categories and to reduce payment rejections and delays.
Co-convenor of OKAA Sameet Panda said it is essential that a campaign be taken up for registering work demand in all districts in collaboration with CSOs. “Rozgaar Diwas should be rejuvenated and work demand registration done through electronic means such as WhatsApp. Work demand receipts should be provided to each worker at panchayat level,” he stressed.
Suggesting to encourage the marginalised households to apply for work during Rozgar Diwas, OSM convener of Arun Prasad Dihudi said the convergence of MGNREGS with Self Help Groups will boost women’s participation. At least 50 per cent of the workers selected by the panchayats should be women, he said.
34.9 lakh households sought work in State
29.2 families given work
32.3 pc of registered SC households participated in MGNREGS
0.3 pc of the rural job scheme’s workers are differently-abled