Members of the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (affiliated to All India Trade Union Congress) petitioned the Collector here, seeking resumption of works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, on Tuesday.
V. Uma Maheswaran, district president, said that at least 400 farmworkers from each village in the district received employment for 100 days under MGNREGS till two years ago. “Now, the number has come down to a meagre 10 to 15. They are promised 100 days of work but get a maximum of 20,” he said, adding that many workers were now jobless.
He added that the nature of work undertaken under MGNREGS had changed. “Workers are expected to dig rainwater pits that are four feet wide and six feet deep. They must water 90 saplings and build check dams in order to earn a pittance of ₹ 224. Private parties pay ₹ 600 for such jobs,” he says.
Jobs that provided security and an assured income four years ago were not so now. “The Public Works Department is benefitted the most from this entire initiative,” Mr. Uma Maheswaran added.
“Officials forge documents claiming employment of labourers for all 100 days. However, they pay the workers the minimum wage,” he alleged. Other protesters like S. Pandian and T. Ramamurthy added that this shift was detrimental to the flagship scheme.