Protests against Advisory on MGNREGA
ON July 26, 2021 protests were organised and memoranda were sent to the president of India through local administrations against the advisory of the union ministry of rural development asking all states and union territories for the division of wage payments under the MGNREGA into different caste categories – Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and others. These protests were organised on the joint call of the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union, Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union, All India Agricultural and Rural Labour Association, All India Samyukt Kisan Sabha, All India Agragami Krishi Shramik Union, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, National Campaign Council for Dalit Rights, Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch and the Akhil Bhartiya MGNREGA Mazdoor Union.
A central protest action was held at Jantar Mantar, which was addressed by Gulzar Singh Goria, general secretary BKMU, M Selva Raj, MP Lok Sabha, N Periasami, president BKMU, V S Nirmal, secretary BKMU, N N Ojha, vice president BKMU, Suneet Chopra, CWC member AIAWU, Vikram Singh, joint secretary AIAWU, V Sivadasan CPI(M) MP from Rajya Sabha and joint secretary AIAWU, K Soma Prasad, CPI(M) MP from Rajya Sabha and vice president DSMM, Sucheta De, AIARLA, Asit Ganguly, AISKS, Shiv Shankar Chauhan and Nathu Prasad, DSMM.
Protesters effectively raised the voice of the rural poor against the central government’s efforts of tampering with the basic concept of MGNREGA which guarantees 100 days of employment to all families asking for work in a year, without concerning with their social background. Through this advisory, the government is targeting the universal demand based character of the MGNREGA. This will also lead to segregation at workplaces on the basis of castes, resulting in a polarisation of rural society.
The importance of MGNREGA in rural India is felt by all, especially the socially marginalised groups, women and minorities. It helps to give work to millions of returnee migrant workers today. This is reflected in the increased demand for work, and the failure to provide work for lack of the necessary allocation of funds.
Protesters demanded that the ministry immediately revoke this advisory and ensure budgetary allocations to provide 200 days’ work at Rs 600 per day to all demanding it with timely payment of wages, or implementing sanctions ordained by law for delayed payments.