The mass signature campaign launched by Assam Mojuri Srameek Union is going on at various districts of Assam on the basis of this draft memorandum translated to the respective mother-tongue of the people. The final memorandum containing the various demands of the people of Assam will be submitted to the Honourable Governor of assam in due course of time.
ASOM MOJURI SRAMEEK UNION
H.O. C/o N. k. Das, Khudiram Sarani, Sibbari Road, Tarapur, Silchar - 788008
Regd No. 2287
__________________________________________________________________________Ref : Date :
The Honourable Governor
Government Of Assam
Sub – Memorandum.
Most humbly and respectfully, we, the leadership of Assam Mojuri Srameek Union, on behalf of the mass of people who have signed the copy of memorandum translated in mother-tongue and containing charter of demands, would like to draw your kind attention to the following facts.
Sir, When CAG audit report on the implementation of MGNREGA has come to the public domain, it has generated lot of uproar and debate. CAG audit coverage was from February 2006 to March 2007 and field audit was done on the basis of relevant records that was not cross-checked through the interaction with the actual beneficiaries. Moreover, the random samples were selected from 25% of NREG-districts subject to minimum two, two blocks from each district, four Gram Panchayats (GPs) from each Block and four works from each GP and thus records relating to 68 districts, 128 blocks within the selected districts, and 513 GPs in the selected blocks were selected for detailed examination. On that basis, audit was performed and enumerated in the CAG report, according to which each registered household received 18 days of employment on average, and only 3.2 per cent of registered households worked for the full 100 days. In response to this, the MRD came out with an alternative calculation, suggesting an average of 44 days of employment per household, with 10 per cent of households getting 100 days of employment. But assumption drawn from the experience of our grassroots activity compel us to believe that in Assam the figures in this respect will be more close to the figures assessed by the CAG. But there may be an addendum that the performance in some GPs where the people are much aware & active, is far better than that of the others within the same Block/District. The GP-wise or Block-wise variation of actual implementation in terms of employment generation as well as asset creation is very high. It is observed that the people’s awareness and popular pressure can alleviate the performance level by reducing the corrupt practice of maintaining fake jobcards or of manipulated entries. Though the fund is earmarked for awareness campaign, lackadaisical approach of the administration to make the campaign ineffective & superficial, and the procrastination & manipulation in holding the gramsabha that empowers the villagers to ensure proper implementation baffles us all. Till date the first Gramsabha of the current financial year has not yet been held. CAG audit report also mentioned that in Assam, attendance of workers was not verified by any authorized official, Certificate of inspecting official was not recorded, there were cases of duplication of workers resulting in overpayment.
It is observed that the grievance redressal mechanism is not functioning properly and so despite repeated complain from the Jobcard-holders vis-à-vis the Union, the concerned authority hesitates to activise the mechanism of transparency and accountability and wraps the process in many layers of beguilement with a view to siphon off the large chunk of money from the fund earmarked for the scheme. When the stipulated days of work and the wage thereof is far less than the actual requirement to cater the need of the villagers and asset generation, the prevarication in accepting and rectifying the administrative inefficacy and murky modus operandi is worrisome and trend-setter to dismantle the very premise of workers rights ingrained in the act.
In the period of 2006-07, the CAG observed that the Gram Sabha meetings were not widely publicized before hand, works were not identified by the Gram Sabhas, copies of MRs were not available for public scrutiny in the GPs. According to the OG, district-wise Schedules of Rates (SOR) must be prepared after undertaking careful “time and motion studies” for the NREGA workforce. The CAG also makes a pointed observation to the effect that the state governments should ensure payment of minimum wages.
Regarding the payment of wages in Assam, the official record in the Govt. website reveals that the number of MRs & the accrued amount thereof against the delayed payment in the financial year 2009-10 & 2010-11 are 95032 & Rs.739283681 and 41643 & Rs.340643000 respectively. But surprisingly enough no compensation has been paid to the Jobcard-holders against the long period of delay in payment.
Regarding the unemployment allowance in Assam, the official record shows that in the period of 2009-10, there are 7328 cases of unemployment allowance due and in the period 2010-11, there are 43675 cases of unemployment allowance due. In 2010-11, the total 2331 cases in Hailakandi district and 347 cases in Karimganj demand a special mention to understand the administrative reluctance and chicanery to avoid recording the genuine claim of unemployment allowance of the Jobcard-holders. In these two districts itself, the Union has to go through a long-drawn-out legal battle to justify the genuine claim of the Unemployment allowance. The honourable High Court heard a PIL-petition of the Union and directed the Deputy Commissioner, Hailakandi, the appellant authority, to pass appropriate order on the appeal filed by the Jobcard Holders for Unemployment Allowance. The Lok Adalat of Karimganj district also passed an order on the case filed by the the Jobcard-holders directing the concerned GP secretary & Patherkandi BDO to immediately seek required budget from concerned Government for payment of the Unemployment allowances entitled by the applicants for the year 2008-09 and on submission of the compliance report by the said officials in persuasion of this order, the court in a subsequent order directed to clear up the dues within two months w.e.f. 25-9-2010. But the Jobcard-holders had to file another petition for non-compliance of the last order. We are sure that the administration is now gearing up to procrastinate and not to budge on the legal obligation so easily and speedily. It is worth-mentioning here that CAG report of Assam states that though no unemployment allowance was paid during the period of 2006-07, the chances that work was not provided within the stipulated period cannot be ruled out as undated applications were being received.
Under the circumstances stated above, we put forward the following demands for your kind perusal and urge upon your good office to prevail upon the concerned ministry vis-à-vis the state Government and also to recommend the same to the Central Government for the fulfillment of these demands --
(1) It must be ensured that the Gramsabhas are held regularly and effectively. The Government grievance redressal mechanism should be put in place as per guideline of MGNREGA and be geared up to address the complain within a stipulated period of time to mitigate the grievances. All the allegations of corruption must be investigated with a high power committee constituted with the members from workers Union & mass organization, people’s representative elected by Gransabhas and experts in different field and headed by a sitting Judge.
(2) The due unemployment allowance must be paid immediately and the state Government should be obliged to initiate due process to ensure payment of unemployment allowance, in case the implementing authority fails to provide jobs to jobcard-holders within the stipulated period of time.
(3) It must be ensured that the compensation is paid to the Jobcard-holders in case of delay in payment of wages.
(4) The minimum wage for the agricultural labourer in assam must be ascertained on the basis of current CPI and must be notified immediately to bring it into effect. The number of days of work and the wage of the MGNREGA workers should be increased to 200 days and Rs 200 respectively.
(5) It is to be noted with utter dismay of all concern that though there was an all India BPL-survey in the year 2007, no field-level BPL-survey has been held after 2002 in Assam. Even BPL-card has not been issued to all those families who are enlisted in 2002 survey. It is quite intriguing to note that the state Government remained in deep slumber and complacent when NSSO BPL-assessment showed a drastic fall of BPL population in Assam in the year 2004-05 in sharp contrast to the all India trend. There were lot of hue and cry from the other state Government for slightest reduction of percentage of BPL families shown in the furnished figures that are at variance with state assessment and thereby effecting the central allocation of food grain for the state, the Assam Government remained unperturbed and unconcerned despite the fact that the record decrease of population shown in the furnished figure is fallacious and unscrupulous compared to all India trend. However, the persistence of considerable differences in the estimation of BPL led the supreme Court to question the norms and method applied for BPL estimation and that is why the planning commission is presently doing sample survey in 12 villages in Assam. The 2011 BPL survey to prepar the list of BPL families is going to be kick-started soon and in that event, we demand that the survey report must be finalized through genuine and effective on-going process of Gramsabhas. Moreover, lot of drama have been orchestrated, lot of APL-BPL manipulation has been designed to hush up easy money, lot of food grains dumped to the houses of well-off having BPL-card when the destitute failed to have one square meal a day for not having BPL card, and all these amply made it clear that the APL-BPL categorization for PDS system is highly ineffectual and unreliable and as such we demand that universal PDS system should be put in place again to eradicate corruption and to ensure the BPL to avail subsidized food grain.
(6) Wages of the tea-workers must be revised and the total equivalent amount of money of the daily wage both in cash & kind for individual worker should not be less than the industrial minimum wage of the state in any case. At present the tea-worker daily wage is less than half of the minimum wage of industrial worker and much less than that of even NREGA-worker. That pathetic sate of affairs and the slave-like treatment meted out to tea-workers should not be continued further.
(7) The land-ownership right should be bestowed on all the tea-worker families, Muslim in CHOR areas, the tribal of forest reserve and the inhabitants who have been residing since last 75 years in the forest reserve areas and the Pacca Patta should be issued to all those people immediately.
(8) The displaced people residing in the refugee camp of Lower Assam in utter destitution and inhuman condition, should be immediately suitably rehabilitated.
(9) Though the handing over of 29 departments has already been notified in the Gazette, but in actual practice the Panchayats are not in a position to act in this direction and so we demand to immediately initiate actual hand over of the charges of all these departments to the Panchayats to ensure grass root democracy and devolution of power.
(10) The beneficiaries of Minority Development Fund should be selected through Gramsabhas.
(11) Considering the earthquake prone zone, the big dam project in NE should be discarded and small scale multi purpose project by constructing small barrages in the main rivers and their tributaries should be initiated.
(12) The long marked D-voter should be omitted from the voter list and the genuine citizens should be provided with voting rights as well as other citizen’s rights.
(13) Last but not the least demand of the Union is that Assam should be restructured in federal basis through multi-layered autonomy with decentralized power and reservation according to population to ensure equal rights and status for all communities and to resolve the deep-rooted identity crisis.
We hope that you will urgently intervene in this matter and do the needful to mitigate the people’s grievances and despair.