Social activists inform Bombay High Court
A group of Delhi-based social activists and lawyers have written to the High Court of Bombay about non-payment of wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Amaravati district of Maharashtra. The group has appealed to the court to treat the letter as a public interest petition and direct the state government to disburse all the pending claims under MGNREGA and take necessary action.
According to the letter, about 150 Gond tribals of Lakatu village in Dharni tehsil built an embankment between May 12 and 18 last year under MGNREGA. But they have not received the wages since.
The group visited Amaravati in the last week of December after a local non-profit apprised them of the matter. “These farmers work as daily wagers and cannot wait for such a long time for their dues,” says social jurist Ashok Agarwal, who was part of the group. Due to non-payment of wages, they have been forced to live like "beggars", which violates their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 23 of the Constitution, Agarwal adds. Social worker Ram Singh Jawarkar, who hails from Amaravati and is part of the group, says the tribals had undertaken the work under the assurance that they would be paid within 15 days of making the claim. Now they feel cheated and have lost faith in the scheme.
Apart from Agarwal and Jawarkar, advocate Nisha Tomar and social worker Umesh Chimote had also visited the district and received written complaints from the 150 Gond tribals. The group has sent copies of the letter to Maharashtra chief minister, state MGNREGA commissioner and district collector of Amaravati.
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