Pallel Area Longs For Scheme Fruit

IMPHAL, Feb 26: Despite the assurance of providing job for 100 days in a year under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), poor villagers under Pallel Gram Panchayat have been provided job only for 31 days in the last three years even as some activists who sought information in this regard were threatened.

Among the many flagship programs of the Government of India aimed at solving the problem of unemployment and elevate the economic status of the people, MGNREGS is one such program which ensures 100 days’ of work in a year to poor people. But there have been numerous complaints over alleged denial of the benefits in different parts of Manipur. The villages under Pallel Gram Panchayat have emerged as the latest case where the people have benefited nothing much from this flagship program.

Villagers under Pallel Gram Panchayat do not have job cards in their hands nor do they have any bank account where the transaction of their wages could be made. From 2008 to 2010, these poor villagers have been provided job only for 31 days and they are yet to receive the full amount of the wages for the work carried out.

On the other hand, four women who dared to seek information on the implementation of the scheme in these villages were allegedly threatened by henchmen of the Pradhan.

Evoking the Right to Information and part of the campaign of Macha Leima RTI Apunba Nupi Lup, four women namely Konjengbam Ongbi Anita Devi, Takhellambam Ongbi Ibempishak, Sagolband Ongbi Memcha Devi and Mayanglambam Momon Devi filed a complaint seeking relevant information on the implementation of MGNREGS in the villagers under Pallel Gram Panchayat.

Though the complaint was filed for the first time on September 21, 2010, no response had been given. Accordingly, the second complaint was filed with the State Information Commission on December 28 last year and the first hearing conducted on January 31 this year.

On the day of first hearing, S Thanilsana, the Pradhan of Pallel GP filed an application to the Commission requesting withdrawal of the case as an agreement had been allegedly arrived with the four complainants.

However, it turned out that Pradhan S Thanilsana herself forged signatures of the four complainants in the application filed before the Commission. It is said that henchmen of the Pradhan have been pressurizing and threatening the complainants to withdraw the case.

Talking to mediapersons in this connection at the office of Macha Leima here today, Ibempishak said that villagers under Pallel Gram Panchayat have no idea about developmental works and schemes taken up by the Government nor do they lodge any complaint in this regard.

In addition, they have never received any benefit under such welfare schemes like BPL, AAY, APL, etc. So, taking the help of RTI, a complaint had been lodged for the first time in the office of RTI office, Thoubal seeking information of MGNREGS.

As no response had been given, another complaint was lodged with the State Information Commission and it led to holding the first hearing. But the Pradhan forged the signatures of the complainants and filed an application requesting withdrawal of the case. This was very unfortunate, Ibempishak said.

Contesting the application filed by the Pradhan with forged signatures of the complainants, another complaint has been lodged to the Commission on February 4, she informed.

Sagolsem Ongbi Memcha pointed out that following the launch of MGNREGS in 2008, some job cards have been issued. But the same have been collected from the villagers by the Panchayat members within 3/4 days citing alleged instruction from DC, Thoubal. From 2008 to 2010, job for only 31 days have been provided to the villagers and out of these 31 days, wages for only 22 days have been given. The job card holders were also made to sign on some plain paper at the time of giving their wages.

Co-ordinator of Macha Leima RTI Apunba Nupi Lup T Demona, who was also present at the occasion, announced that necessary steps would be taken up by the Lup to ensure that the public are aware of the developmental schemes of the Government very soon.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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