HRF Press Release – Urging TG government to pay wages in advance to ensure livelihood and postpone the actual work

Press Release

Subject: Immense social risk in people gathering for rural employment work across Telangana — Urging the government to pay wages in advance to ensure livelihood and postpone the actual work

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) urges the government of Telangana to ensure that villagers are paidin advancethe Rural Employment Guarantee wages for the rest of the lockdown period of about 3 weeks and have them do the actual physical work after the Coronavirus threat is no longer present. That way livelihood security is ensured, while the potentially disastrous spread of the virus is contained.

It is a fact that people desperately need the little money they get from the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme during these exacting times.Multiple districts in Telangana have started the NREG work supposedly with instructions on record to maintain distance from each other while working, given the corona crisis.

In many villages in these districts, including in some districts with a number of COVID cases, people are gathering in large groups for the Rural Employment work. There is no practical way to ensure people travel to and from the village to the worksite and do the work of digging or levelling or any other similar work without being next to each other and without handling the same tools and equipment. We have witnessed multiple instances in villages of Vikarabad district, for instance, where over 20 people have gathered closely in a group for digging work which involves passing the soil baskets (“gampalu”) from person to person. This is a major way in which a virus can potentially spread, defeating the point of the lockdown.

According to our information, there are about 70,000 people presently going for NREG works in Telangana and this number is bound to increase greatly over the next few days. Therefore, this matter is of utmost importance to public health in our State.

N Amar (HRF State secretary)

S Jeevan Kumar (HRF TS&AP Coordination Committee member)

14-4-2020

Hyderabad

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