Leading activists today alleged that the government was "denying" wages to a huge number of labourers working under the MGNREGA scheme and in many cases the compensation was not even being calculated. Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sangthan (MKSS), development economist Jayati Ghosh, CPI leader Annie Raja and few other activists in a press conference held here, also said there was "no accountability" despite the poorest of the poor being "deprived" of their just rights. "Payment of wages are not done to workers as per the legal provisions which amounts to forced labour. Instead, the compensation is being hidden and many cases not even being calculated to deny them their rights. Only a very low number of labourers are getting wages.
This is diabolical," Dey alleged. Ghosh and Raja termed the Modi government as "anti-poor" and "pro-corporate". "Poor people are not under the radar of this government. In two years, this government could have done something for the poor, but 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' is a hollow slogan. It is a government of the corporate, by the corporate and for the corporate," Raja alleged. The activists claimed that despite the enactment of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 10 years ago, the poor are not getting their due. "And this is despite the Supreme Court pulling up the Centre that it was not doing enough," Dey said. The Centre early this month released its share of funds to the tune of Rs 12,230 crore to the states for the rural job flagship scheme, days after the Supreme Court had pulled it up for not releasing adequate funds. The apex court had also asked the Centre to give details of the expenditure on the scheme in drought-hit states, saying relief has to be provided now and not after one year. The MGNREGA aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The activists also alleged that by linking the payment of wages through Aadhaar card was another "attempt to deny" the poorest of the people their due. "Some of the the state governments are complicit in this denial of wages by not writing to the Centre, despite knowing it. "Also, the Ministry of Rural Development is wilfully under representing the delays of wage payments, by only calculating the period of delay till the administrative process within a state. It does not calculate delays at the payment agencies level, nor the delays due to the inadequacy and delay of releasing funds from the Centre," Dey claimed.