CHHATARPUR DISTRICT, MADHYA PRADESH: In drought-hit Ramsila village in Madhya Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region, Suga Bai and her husband Har Prasad dug a well under the MNREGA scheme four months ago. They were hoping to get Rs 187 per day for 30 days of labour. But, they have still not been paid for their work, which as per the rules should have been made within 15 days.
With a loan of Rs 25,000 to repay and no other means of livelihood, the family in now thinking of migrating to a city in search of work.
“We worked for a month under MNREGA and for the last four months I have been literally begging for my money. They say they have no funds. If I do not get money soon I will migrate to a bigger city in search of work. I cannot let my family die here,” says 42-year-old Suga Bai.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MNREGA was passed in 2005 which guarantees 100 days of work and was meant to stop distress migration by providing a minimum income and employment to people in rural areas.
But, it has not found any takers in Chandnagar Gram Panchayat which includes Ramsila village because of the delay in payments. Money not coming on time has also brought to an end to development work like construction of wells and the building of Panchayat Bhawan.
Babulal Adivasi, Sarpanch Chandnagar Panchayat, told NDTV, “The labourers are after us for money, when we complaint to officers they say MNREGA payments will be made soon. But on the ground villagers have not got money. In my gram panchayat Rs 7-8 lakhs of MNREGA payment is due. Because of payment delay all our work is stalled.”
The administration admits that effective implementation of MNREGA in drought-hit villages will help villagers but they disagree that the scheme has been hit by a cash crunch and cite procedural delays.
Chandra Mohan Thakur, Additional District Magistrate, Chhatarpur says, “At the moment funds is not a big problem. Sarpanch are alleging that officials tell them the delay is because of fund crisis. But let me clarify there is no crisis of funds, it may happen for a day or for an hour.”
Contrary to the claims, Chhatarpur Administration’s own records show that for the financial year 2015-2016, of the Rs 60 crores of MNREGA payment, they still have to clear Rs 15 crores. And the drought-hit villagers are losing patience and heading to cities to earn livelihood.