Members of All India Agricultural Workers’ Union and Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front on Monday staged a demonstration in front of the Collectorate here, condemning a recent letter from the Centre to prepare caste-wise data of workers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
A letter from the Union Ministry of Rural Development asked State governments to prepare caste-wise data on expenditure on wages paid to workers under MGNREGS.
Union district secretary S. Pandian said such an announcement would not be beneficial to people from the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe.
The Centre stated that there was no data on SC/ST population in the country as reason for the move. “There is concern that the data on SC and ST population may affect the budget allocated for them,” said Mr. Pandian.
The MGNREGS was for rural people. For families who had enrolled in the programme, 200 days of work and ₹600 as minimum wage must be paid. There was need to ensure that the wages were paid on time as there was increase in arrears, he pointed out.
The new order would further create a complex system of paying wages to the workers. Hence, the Centre must stop proceeding with the order, added Mr. Pandian.
In a similar demonstration in Dindigul, the members demanded that the Centre immediately issue a circular to all State governments to stop collecting the data.
The agitation, which was held in front of the Collectorate, urged the Centre to pay wages properly and also enhance the number of days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Giving work for 100 days was insufficient.
There were so many issues concerning the SC/STs to be implemented. Such circulars to collect caste-wise data only complicated or diverted the main issues from being redressed, they said.
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