Job-card holders claim deprivation of wages under MGNREGA

AC Thambalkhong Gram Panchayat MGNREGA Victimised Job Card Holders, secretary, T Subhas Meitei alleged that the Pradhan Koijam Ongbi Roman Devi and member Sarangthem Ongbi Anita Devi had "plotted and deprived job card holders of their wages since August 2019".

Job-card holders of Thambalkhong Gram Panchayat (GP) ward No 10/3/1 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on Friday alleged that they have been deprived of their wages as the Pradhan and a member had opened bank accounts in another bank without their knowledge.

Speaking at a press meet held at the Human Rights Alert office, JAC Thambalkhong Gram Panchayat MGNREGA Victimised Job Card Holders, secretary, T Subhas Meitei alleged that the Pradhan Koijam Ongbi Roman Devi and member Sarangthem Ongbi Anita Devi had "plotted and deprived job card holders of their wages since August 2019". Both the Pradhan and the member had opened bank accounts for job-card holders at Manipur State Cooperative Bank (MSCB), Porompat branch without their knowledge while they had already opened their accounts at Manipur Rural Bank.

T Subhas Meitei said that in August 2019, all job-card holders had worked but they received only Rs 500 each in November and were told that the money had not been deposited. This year again in the month of January and February, all job-card holders had performed their work but received only Rs 500 each. The same excuse was repeated this time too. Pradhan and the member are alleged to have stated that even the Rs 500 were also borrowed from others to pay job-card holders.

The bank accounts at MSCB were opened when the COVID-19 lockdown started and the central government was to deposit Rs 500 to all women's accounts. While the gram panchayat women had gone to Manipur Rural Bank to take out the amount, there was no money in their account. After an inquiry, it was found that their accounts were opened at Manipur State Co-operative Bank, said T Subhas Meitei.

Following this, an FIR had been lodged at Porompat Police Station under section 420/486/120b/34 IPC but both the Pradhan and the member were given anticipatory bail and no further investigation has been initiated, alleged T Subhas Meitei. Now, the job-card holders have also lodged complaints before the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC). Required materials of evidence have been submitted before the MHRC. From the documents, it is clear that all the wages had been taken away, said T Subhas Meitei.

All job-card holders of the gram panchayat want the state government and concerned authority to look into the matter seriously and take action according to the law. All job-card holders want their money back in their Manipur Rural Bank accounts, said T Subhas Meitei. There is sufficient proof of pilferage and the authority must take appropriate action against the culprits, he added.

First Published: July 18, 2020, 12:34 a.m.