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India: NREGA Workers Filing Police Complaints Against the Prime Minister

28 February

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NREGA action day

Press Release (28 Feb 2019)

  • Filing of FIRs against Prime Minister for fraud in NREGA wages of workers on 28th February, 2019, at – Police Station across the country
  • Petition to Prime Minister of India and Minister of Rural Development for immediate release of Rs. 25,000 crores to NREGA Budget

On 28th February NREGA workers across the country went to their local police station and file an FIR against Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi. This is being done as part of the National Day of Action called by the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective ofgroups that work with NREGA labourers across the country.

Thousands of NREGA workers from 9 states, namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Chhatissgarh and Gujarat had staged demonstrations and attempted to lodge an FIR at the nearest police station against the blatant violation of law by the central government in making MGNREGA payments. Workers across 50 districts in these 9 states have gathered in almost 150 police stations to lodge their complaints.

The Government of India is the authority responsible for implementing the provisions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA). As its head, it is incumbent on Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India to ensure that the law be followed in letter and spirit. However, the last five years have witnessed deliberate undermining of the Act, by allocating insufficient funds, not meeting the fund demand on time, delays in wage payments and thereby suppressing work demand.

If the work demand of the workers has to be fulfilled, at least Rs. 88,000 crore should have been allocated towards the program. However, insufficient funds have repeatedly resulted in holding back of payments of wages and demand not being met in critical periods of the year. This has caused immense hardships for workers and exacerbated the conditions of the most marginalised groups of citizens.

He has therefore been guilty of committing multiple offenses like making false promises to make workers work, cheating them of their wages and disobeying the law, especially the provisions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, with intent to cause harm to the workers and their families. And it is on the basis of this complaint thousands of workers across the country while waiting for their pending wages have decided to register a FIR against the principal violator Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India under sections 116 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code and to take necessary steps to immediately arrest the wrong doer.

In the period between October 2018 to 1 February 2019, no Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) were processed in many states due to non-availability of funds for MGNREGA, forcing workers to wait for wages for months on end, even when the Act promises that wages will be given within 15 days of doing work.

Flagging this funds crisis in the NREGA, a letter has been sent to the Minister Rural Development, from across the country through the District Magistrates (DMs) stating that the NSM demands that “… the Government of India should immediately release Rs. 25000 crore to fund NREGA work till June 2019, when the budget will be passed after the general elections.”

The rationale behind this demand is that, the initial allocation of FY 18-19 of Rs. 55,000 crore was long exhausted in January 2019, and owing to mounting pressure and criticism from MGNREGA workers, citizen campaigns, and Members of Parliament, additional funds to of Rs 6,084 crore were released to honour legal commitments to the programme. Out of this, Rs. 5745crore will go into clearing the pending liabilities as per the figures reflected in the government data [1]. Therefore, there is practically no fund to fulfill the new demand in the peak period between January and March 2019

It is ironic, that a Government which seems to have plenty of money to fund bullet trains and to compensate banks for NPAs of corporates who looted the banks, has no money to pay workers who have done their fair share of work and are now awaiting their wages.

For NSM Conveners Group : Debmalya and Ankita (Jharkhand), Anuradha (Bengal), Richa Singh and Arundhati (U.P.), Kamayani (Bihar), Mukesh (Rajasthan), Ganga Ram Paikra (Chattisgarh), Nancy and Aysha (Delhi), Neeta (Gujrat), Nirmala (A.P) and Abhay (Karnataka).

Footnotes

[1As per report number R7.1.1 on the Management Information System on nrega.nic.in