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Activist protests over non-release of COVID assistance

Activist protests over non-release of COVID assistance
Angela Rangad sat outside the secretariat building in Shillong and demanding measures to be taken to help the marginalised.
Correspondent SHILLONG, JUL 20 | Publish Date: 7/20/2021 10:49:12 AM IST

A civil rights activist is staging a lone protest in front of the gate at the main secretariat in Meghalaya capital Shillong demanding the release of COVID 19 financial assistance meant for the marginalised labourers in the State. 

Angela Rangad, who is known for fighting for the rights of the marginalised people, is on a second straight consecutive day protest in front of the gate where chief minister Conrad Sangma and his council of ministers sit.

Interestingly, neither the Sangma nor anyone of the ministers have spoken to her or urged her to withdraw her protest. 

“I am sitting here every day during office hours to remind the government that it should immediately release the money to the labourers,” Rangad said.

“I will continue to sit here till the government releases the financial aid to all the beneficiaries and justifies its claim that there is no scam since many of the labourers have not received the financial aid,” she said. 

In March 2020, the Meghalaya government had announced financial assistance for unorganised sector workers under the Chief Minister’s Relief Against Wage Loss (CMRAWL) in view of the Covid lockdown. An amount of Rs 2,100 for three weeks was to be given to each daily wage labourer, hawker and domestic worker (Rs 700 per week). 

Rangad said that the government has claimed that Rs 52 crore was sanctioned for the financial assistance for the marginalized workers but “more than 50 percent is unaccounted for.”

Rangad said that when she followed up to know if the marginalised people have received the financial assistance or not, she found out that they did not receive.

She had also sought the information from the Labour department under the RTI Act in November 2020, which revealed that many of those who had submitted their applications did not find their names in the list, and those whose names were on the list, did not either get any money or received only Rs 1400 or Rs 700.

 “How can he (Deputy Chief Minister) say that the account numbers of the beneficiaries were wrong or not active when the labourers who had received Rs 700 last year, did not receive the remaining amount till now?” Rangad questioned.

Similarly, Rs 5000 was to be given to each labourer registered under the Meghalaya Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (MBOCWWB).

TUR and the Workers Power of Meghalaya (WPM) had submitted their first 1400-page complaint to the Chief Minister and demanded immediate release in full of the financial assistance to the labourers who have not received.

She also demanded an independent and time bound enquiry into the implementation of this scheme.

However, Tynsong had denied irregularities or scam in the utilisation of the financial assistance meant for the daily wage labourers.

 

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