People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 28, 2006
For Implementation Of NREGS In UP
for implementation of NREGS was
held In Hasua block, Fatehpur district in UP. While UP has the distinction of
having the largest number of districts selected, it also has the more dubious
distinction of being, perhaps, the only State where almost nothing has been done
to see that the provisions of the Act are implemented, though the
notification was given on February 2. It can safely be said that till
today not a single work site has been started in consonance with these
units are active in several of the notified districts in mobilising women to
demand work. For the last month,
the campaign has been taken up by kisan sabha and AIAWU activists also.
Everywhere that demonstrations were held, the district authorities had a
stock reply – instructions have not been issued.
In spite of this, in Kushinagar district of Eastern UP, more than 200
women, including many belonging to the most poverty-stricken of all, the
Musahars many of whom have died of starvation in the last few drought-prone
years, demonstrated before the collectorate.
After they stormed the office, refusing to leave till their demands were
met, they were issued Work Cards! In
Chandauli also there have been demonstrations in all the blocks of the district
and a few works have now been started in the district but not in the way that is
envisioned in the Act.
is one of the 22 districts in UP that have been selected for the implementation
of the NREGA. District leaders of the Kisan Sabha, AIAWU and AIDWA have
been going regularly to the district collectorate since March
and have also held a demonstration there but there was absolutely no
response. Then they decided to
intensify their agitation. A group
of activists went on cycles from village to village in the Hasua block at the
time of an intense heat-wave led by Narottam Singh, Gayaprasad and Chiraunji Lal.
From May 4-6 they visited 25
villages, spending the night there. Meetings
were held to discuss the problems of the villagers and also the provisions of
the Act. Several pradhans (sarpanchs) were also contacted.
Not only had the work not been started anywhere but hardly any
preparations at all have been made. It was, therefore, decided to hold a demonstration at the
Hasua Block on May 16.
of women and men collected at the block. Many
of the women were widows and most of them were extremely poor. All the men and
women were landless agricultural workers. As if in preparation for the
demonstration, large posters giving details of the Act’s provisions had been
posted all over the Block offices the previous night!
Khursheed (state president, AIDWA) and I participated in the demonstration.
Several people spoke including the pradhans of two villages.
What they said was truly shocking.
Yadav, pradhan of Michki village, said that he had been issued 80 work cards
from the block. He got the photographs of 80 couples taken, all of them
belonged to the SCs and had the completed cards ready for distribution but
because of the fact that the panchayat secretary the gram panchayat adhikari,(a
government functionary) had been absent for more than 2 months the photographs
could not be attested and the cards could not be counter-signed.
He went on to say that the poor people who had the cards made were
repeatedly asking him, so he distributed 30 cards knowing full well that they
would be of little use.
from Faridpur village said that their pradhan was demanding Rs. 50 for each work
card and also told them to get their photographs taken.
They also mentioned that a year ago they had paid Rs.10 each for BPL
cards but were yet to get them.
Village Sarain Amaiyya, 5 people who had been issued work cards showed their
cards which had not been signed or attested.
CPI(M) pradhan, Siyaram from Chhitampur village said that he had managed to get
135 work cards which had been duly filled and attested and the work in his
village (digging of a pond) was going to start from the May 8.
However, even he said that none of the NREGA norms had been followed but
getting some work was better than none.
villages complained that no one had even told the villagers about work cards but
now that they had heard about the scheme they had started demanding them which
was making pradhans and others very angry.
the block officials had also come to the office that day and had a detailed
discussion with us. They accepted the fact that the government had only recently
started issuing instructions about the Act.
The government scheme, however, had still not been prepared and not a
single gram sabha had been held in the entire state. They said that while work would start, it would just be the
kind of work that was being done in the other schemes like Rozgar Yojana etc.,
and they were hopeful that the implementation of the Act would materialise after
July 15. Many of the problems were
quite genuine. For one thing, the
state government has not accorded any kind of priority to this work.
For another, funds for the work cards have only been released in the last
week. The biggest hurdle, however,
is that there is just not enough staff to actually implement the Act.
For example, for the 788 villages in the district, there are only 104
panchayat secretaries of whom 10 – 15 percent are under suspensions.
Without their presence, the gram sabha cannot be held and without their
signature no attestation of any kind can be made.
The short-sighted World Bank influenced policies of cutting back on jobs
and recruitment are taking a very heavy toll.
The situation in Fatehpur is far from unique. A newspaper report about Hardoi quotes a pradhan of Gutaiya village, Sushil Singh, as saying that application forms for registration are being sold outside the block office for between Rs. 2 and 20. When this was brought to the notice of the district magistrate, he replied `We all know that the villagers used to pay people sitting outside the tehsil office for writing their applications. I cannot do anything if they are even buying the forms from outsiders.'
The UP government’s criminal negligence of the most basic needs of the poor should not go unchallenged. The AIDWA, Kisan Sabha and AIAWU in the state have taken a decision to launch militant campaign for the implementation of the Act and also use this campaign to increase their organisational strength and intervention capabilities.