Sambalpur: Thousands of migrant workers and daily wagers were badly affected by the pandemic which cost them their jobs. The government thought the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) could act as a panacea for the rural workforce at this time.
However, severe fund crunch has become a concern for daily wagers in Sambalpur district, a report said.
Migrant workers and resident daily wagers had got work in various projects under the MGNREGS, but scores of them have not yet received their wages. The rural job scheme has not helped them at this difficult time when their wages are pending.
According to information from DRDA, wages amounting to Rs 50 lakh are yet to be cleared. This has come about due to fund crunch.
Labour unions have expressed displeasure as the daily wagers live in misery with wages pending with the administration. They pointed out that if this situation continued for a longer period, migrant workers, who had come back to the district, will be bound to go back to their workplaces.
Some daily wagers lamented that they had to go through such hardship and managing their families is too difficult. They are planning to migrate to other places to get work.
On the other hand, district coordinator of MGNREGS, Sobhit Bisi said once the process is completed, wages will be cleared. In Sambalpur, many projects were executed during the pandemic while thousands of migrant and resident workers got work.
The administration claimed to have created 20,13,432 workdays for daily wagers in the district. Projects worth Rs 52.3 crore under the MGNREGS have been executed. But wages of Rs 50 lakh has been pending for clearance.
A record number of workdays were created in Jamankira block. 3, 83, 847 workdays were created for daily wagers. The administration has managed to create 2,34,106 workdays in Rairakhol block; 33,22, 174 workdays in Bamara block; 3,30, 362 workdays in Jujumara block; 1,64,105 workdays in Naktideula block; 2, 42, 098 workdays in Kuchinda block; 1,51,420 workdays in Rengali block; 87,231 workdays in Dhankauda block and 98,098 workdays in Maneswar block.
However, it was found that the scheme faces difficulties in some areas in meeting the demand for work and paying wages on time. These issues are likely to be exacerbated in the days to come.
Social activists and labour experts pointed out that the pandemic seems to linger on for several months while current agricultural season appears to be lean. The demand will be on MGNREGS. But fund crunch will be a hurdle in mitigating the problem for the rural workforce.
Availability of funds and timely clearance of wages will help the migrants and resident daily wagers in the district, they added.