Rashmi Ranjan

At a time when people still find it difficult to cope up with the crisis left on by the Covid pandemic, rise in usage of machines in place of labourers in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) works has compounded the miseries of the daily wage earners in Odisha. 

According to sources, scores of daily wage earners in Patrapur panchayat under Aul block of Kendrapara district are staring at uncertainty after losing workdays in MGNREGA projects due to deployment of more machinery in place of manual labourers.

A recent report suggests that even though Rs 5 lakh has been sanctioned under MGNREGA for the development of play ground of the girl’s high school in the panchayat, the contractor is reportedly carrying out the work using machines.

Ghanashayam Mallick, a job card holder alleged, “We are not getting any work for the last two years due to Covid-19 pandemic and the cyclones have also compounded our miseries. At a time when we desperately need work to make our ends meet, the contractors are replacing job card holders like us with machines in MGNREGA projects which is extremely disappointing."

The local Sarpanch who has also been apprised about the issue several times has not paid any heed to the crisis of the workers, alleged another labourer.

On the other hand, the local Block Development Officer (BDO) has assured the job card holders of action against erring contractor and other officials if found guilty after an investigation.

“I have received complaints regarding irregularities in MGNREGA project. Action will be taken after an investigation,” said Dwibendu Das, Aul BDO.