16 years on, workers yet to receive unemployment allowance under MGNREGA in Punjab


: Even after 16 years of the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), not even a single worker received the unemployment allowance under the social security scheme in Punjab as the state government is yet to notify rules for it.

According to the section 7 (1) of MGNREGA, the state government has to pay unemployment allowance to MGNREGA workers if it failed to provide them work within the 15 days of their demand for work. The state government is required to prescribe the procedure for payment of allowance.

Besides, section 7 (5) of the act makes it mandatory to release the unemployment allowance to the beneficiaries within the 15 days of when they become eligible for the allowance.

“Despite such provisions of the Act, neither they are giving allowance nor notified rules for the release of it. They are depriving the poor from their social security provided under the Act,” said Rajkumar Kansuha, state president of the Democratic MGNREGA Front, which filed the RTI, seeking details of the unemployment allowance paid to the beneficiaries under the scheme in Punjab.

The Union ministry of rural development had also informed in the Lok Sabha on April 5 this year that the Punjab government has not notified rules for the payment of allowance. There are only 24 states/UTs that have notified the rules and Punjab is not one of them.

In its reply to the RTI, the state government acknowledged that hundreds of beneficiaries of 8 villages of Patiala district are eligible for the unemployment allowance.

“Earlier, the department was refusing to accept that there is any worker eligible for the allowance. Now, they cannot run as the department itself accepted in the reply to the RTI that there are hundreds of workers eligible for this benefit,” Kansuha said.

According to the RTI reply, the workers of 7 villages have got less days of work against their demands. These seven villages are Khuda Darapur, Qutbanpur, Bhima Kheri, Bujurg, Neihra, Thuha Pati and Bhore. Besides, the department has failed twice to provide work to the workers of Kansuha Khurd even for a single day.

The residents of Kansuha Khurd village had demanded work first on June 6 last year and then on September 7. However, they did not get any work, reveals the RTI.

Gurpreet Singh Khaira, director of the department, did not respond to repeated calls and messages.

When contacted, rural development and panchayat minister, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, said, “I have sought the file of the scheme from officials of the department and will look into it.”

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