Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Telangana Today
New Delhi: On the morning of April 10, tragedy struck at a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) worksite at Y. Tippagutta in Telangana, wherein 10 women labourers were buried and six others gravely injured when loose soil and boulders fell on them. The workers were taking rest under the shade in the foot of a small hillock when the incident took place, say reports. They were working on a trench cutting scheme under the rural job guarantee scheme in the Teeleru panchayat of Marikal Mandal in the district of Narayanpet.
Taking a serious view of the incident, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha blamed “the failure of the governments to provide basic facilities like shades and administration’s negligence in ensuring adequate security measure at the work sites for labourers is responsible for the incident”.
In a press statement, the Morcha said the workers resorted to an area which had been carved out by JCB work as a resting place in the absence of proper shade. It said despite the demand by several groups, such as Upadhi Hami Phone Radio, Dalit Bahujan Front, along with other civil society groups for cloth shamiyanas (tents), even plastic sheets are not provided at all the work sites, which creating difficulties for workers in the summers. This is “a blatant violation of the act and human rights of workers,” the Morcha said.
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Demanding a judicial enquiry into the incident and a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for each of the affected families, the Morcha also demanded that “the workers’ families be immediately provided with the benefits and entitlements mentioned under Section-26 of Schedule-II of the NREGA and the state notification in this regard”. It also demanded that cloth tents be provided at each worksite.
Highlighting the government’s failure in ensuring the security of the workers, the release said, “The Government of India have repeatedly failed in ensuring security and protection for the millions of rural labourers who risk their lives everyday and work under adverse situations. This grave tragedy has again unmasked the insensitivity of the administrative system and exposed the lack of intent in the central government which has always neglected the issues of workers.”
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Another demand made by the Morcha is that NREGA workers should be automatically covered under the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Act, which will provide the workers with social security benefits.
They also appealed to the Central government to ensure that a standard minimum criteria be set for the security and protection of MGNREGA workers at worksites to prevent any such accidents in the future.
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