Imphal: In violation of the government order that prohibits large gathering in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manipur Panchayat Parishad functionaries continued to hold sit-in protest on Wednesday and rally in large numbers without maintaining COVID-19 SOPs at Porompat, Imphal East demanding the state government to release Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGS) fund.
The protesters also took out a large rally from the District Collector’s Office to the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister’s bungalow.
After holding the rally and sit-in protest with a large gathering of members, the Panchayat members went about conducting road blockades at several parts of the valley areas, demanding the release of MGNREGS funds.
The rally was stopped by police, blocking them from moving beyond the City Convention, Palace compound. Police allowed only four persons representing the protesters to meet the minister.
The members of the Manipur Panchayat Parishad have been conducting sit-in protests demanding the release of MGNREGS funds and airing their grievances, in front of the DC Office at Porompat since April 17.
On April 18, the minister said a proposal has been sent to the finance department to release the sanctioned amount of Rs 569.16 crore under the MGNREGS.
The minister said the Provisional Utilisation Certificate of the previous sanctioned fund had been forwarded to the ministry, which will eventually help in sanctioning the first installment of MGNREGS 2021-22 along with the liabilities. He continued that for the 15th Finance Commission, a file has also been submitted to the Finance department to sanction a sum of Rs 37,08,50,000 for Zila Parishad and Gram Panchayat as per instruction from the ministry.
He said that the release of the honorarium of the Panchayati Raj Institution was delayed as there was a financial crisis in the state and the closing of the financial year in March last by the finance department.
“A sum of Rs 46.70 crore of the State Finance Commission had already been sanctioned and a file had been submitted to the finance department to release the honorarium for the Panchayati Raj Institution members”, he added.
While there had been due in the payments of job cardholders, works were allotted for 60 days for the year 2020-21, the minister said, assuring the release of honorarium of job cardholders at the earliest.
Launching the agitation on April 17, Panchayat functionaries from six districts of the state protested against the non-release of funds under the 15th Finance Commission Award (2nd installments) and demanded their honorarium from October 2019 to March 2021. They also demanded immediate implementation of NeFMS for the welfare of job cardholders.
The Panchayat members were reportedly carrying out the road blockade in the name of calling a bandh without taking prior permission of concerned district authorities, causing inconvenience to the public.
Md. Abdul Latif, a Panchayat member said, “We have organized a sit-in protest against non-release of funds by Manipur government. Under MGNREGS, Centre has sanctioned and released a liability amount of Rs 560 crores for 2020-21 on 15 March 2020 but the Manipur government has not released it…The honorarium of panchayat has not been released since 2019. The centrally sponsored funds should be released by the Manipur government.” (ANI)