MNREGA Watch’s Indefinite Strike

On the 24th of August 2016, we began an indefinite strike at the District Collector’s Office. We had 5 main demands:

  • Lack of payment of unemployment benefits across Panchayats affiliated with SPSS.
  • Delayed payments of NREGA wages in some Panchayats and lack of new NREGA work.
  • Women workers of Dumri Panchayat, Musahari Block, were paid only INR 91 per day for work done under the NREGA, nearly half the daily stipulated wage. We demanded an investigation and an increase to the stipulated INR 177.
  • Setting up of a ration shop in Mahant Maniyari, after the suspension of the license of the previous PDS dealer, Kedar Ram.
  • Setting up of a ration shop in Ward No. 5 of Ratnauli.

As of today (23rd October), the two demands related to ration shops have been met. Most delayed payments have come through, but there is no talk of compensation for delays, a clause mentioned in the NREGA Act. Two demands – that relating to the under-payment of wages for workers from Dumri and the payment of unemployment benefits have not been met at all.

Here are some highlights:

1. August, 24th: The Dharna begins. 



2. By September 4th, the district administration had taken care of two of our demands, workers celebrated. 



3. By October 1st, we had reached Day 40 and the DDC announced that the workers of Dumri wouldn’t be compensated because the measurements of the road built had not been pre-labeled and that, therefore, it was impossible to take the workers’ word on the fact that they had worked full days.


Day 42 came and we continued to emphasize our other demands – unemployment benefits, compensation for delayed wages.


… Day 45:


4. Finally, on Day 52, we suspended our dharna for 17 days, till after the Diwali and Chhat festivities. 


PDS Reform

October 2014


In September 2014, the government replace three corrupt PDS dealers, based on complaints by SPSS members.

 2 dealers in Amrak Panchayat (Kurhani Block, Muzaffarpur); 1 in Dumri Panchayat (Musahari Block, Muzaffarpur) were removed by the District authorities for malpractice.

The dealers were guilty on two counts: they charged high rates, they delayed delivery of rations.

SPSS members had threatened to strike against the dealers. The dealers dared them to do so.

A verbal complaint was lodged in the district office in July 2014. Within a month and a half, the corrupt dealers were replaced.

This comes close on the heels of the dismissal of other corrupt officials: Panchayat Rozgar Sevaks (NREGA officials) from Ratnauli, Harshankar and Mahant Maniyari Panchayats (all in Ratnauli) have been removed.


A small miracle : labourers get 6 month worth PDS

On Feb 25th, 2014, 400 SPSS members walked up to the Fair Price Shop and demanded that the PDS dealer give them their pending rations. Members hadn’t been given their quota of grain for an incredible six months! The dealer asked for 4 days time.

When they went back on the 28th of February, the dealer was ready with bags and bags of rice, wheat and kerosene — enough for every single woman and man who had assembled. A full six months worth.

Corruption is rampant, but can be plugged: if everyone works together and demands what is rightfully theirs.

In pictures:

1. Labourers staging first dharna and forcing the ration shop dealer to relent in January

Grain being distributed at Fair Price Shop

2. Women thronging to go to the Fair Price Shop after staging a protest earlier that week

Women going to Fair Price shop to collect ration

Women going to Fair Price shop to collect ration

3. Dealer distributes grain — a victory!

Fair Price Shop Dealer distributing six months worth grain

Fair Price Shop Dealer distributing six months worth grain

4. Members enjoying hard-won grain

Happy Members with justly procured grain

Happy Members with justly procured grain