A sample study by Thma U Rangli-Juki, a local NGO following up the State government Covid-19 relief scheme (2020) said that only 13 per cent of those who applied received the full amount.
TUR had set up a website called ‘Graamvani’ and as per the response in it 28 per cent received the relief partially, 47 per cent got nothing and six per cent did not recall whether they had received it or not.
Dozens of daily wagers and domestic workers took time off from their busy schedule to appear before a public hearing today to testify that they are yet to receive the Covid relief cash compensation promised by the state government in 2020 under the Chief Minister’s Relief Against Wage Loss (CRAWL) and for workers registered with the Meghalaya Building and Other Construction Workers Board (BOCWB).
The government had announced Rs. 2100 and Rs. 5000 for the unorganised sector workers affected by the pandemic as income support.
The public hearing on the implementation of these schemes was organized Meghalaya Domestic Workers Movement, Meghalaya & Greater Shillong Progressive Hawkers and Street Vendors Association, TUR and Social Accountability Forum for Action and Research (SAFAR).
The panel included retired Justice Madan J Lokur Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Rudi Warjri Retired Indian Ambassador and Diplomat, Meena Kharkongor Ex Chairperson of Meghalaya Commission for Child Rights, Aitinora Myrthong, Social Development Consultant, Meghalaya Society for Social Audit and Transparency, Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and Rev. Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh, Civil Society Member.
Many daily wagers came forward and told the panelists and the general gathering that they had not received any of the amount they had applied for while others stated that they had received only a part of the amount which they were promised. They came armed with their bank pass books and identity cards.
One of these was Diangtimon Diengdoh, a domestic worker from a locality in the city who said that she had applied through the local authorities. She had received Rs.700 in her account though the scheme had an assurance that she would be granted Rs.2100.
Angela Rangad of TUR told the gathering that she was one of those whose names had been listed in the RTI replies where Rs.2100 was already sanctioned for her. Many others gave similar statements.
The public hearing was attended by two HDFC bank officials who told the panel that they had transferred the amounts as received in the advisory from the State government to the accounts notified in the advisories. Among these, there were some which could not be transferred due to the bank accounts not being correct.
The officials however could not reply the questions from the panelists as to why the bank had not put up the entire list on their public notice board so that their clients could see them.
There were also some on the floor who commented that it is surprising that daily wagers and unorganised sector workers have bank accounts in a bank like the HDFC which charges higher fees than public sector banks which is virtually free.
Rangad said that they had set up the Graamvani with technical support from a Delhi based organization, where all the replies to the RTI they had sought regarding the number of persons who had been granted and the amounts that had been transferred to their bank accounts were uploaded for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the schemes.
The beneficiaries in the RTI reply were 1, 81,491 up to August 2021. The beneficiaries had been transferred either Rs.2100 or Rs.5000 (for those registered under BOCWB).
When the RTI replies were made public the discrepancy between the amount said to have been transferred and the amount received by the beneficiaries prompted Rangad to hold a dharna outside the main secretariat some months back. Following this the state labour department had agreed to rectify the discrepancies. However, as it was not done satisfactorily, the public hearing was necessitated to follow up the tardiness of the government which is clearly sitting on a massive mismanagement of Covid-19 relief funds which runs into crores, she said.