Chennai, June 16(BPNS)
Elderly people above the age of 55 who were excluded from Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGREGA), scheme are struggling for their day to day lives in several parts of Tamil Nadu.
Around 1.35 crore people of Tamil Nadu are engaged under MGREGA of which a whopping 35% are from the above 55 age group.
The then commissioner of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj department, K.S. Palanisamy had on April 19 ordered that workers with symptoms such as common cold, influenza, sneezing, cough, or morbid diseases like hypertension and heart ailments and above 55 years of age should be avoided from being engaged under MGNREGA.
A Dhanalakshmi ,Vice President, Penn Thozhilalargal Sangham while speaking to BPNS said,” The elderly people are starving and avoiding a whole group citing reasons like cold and influenza is not understandable. Government must take immediate steps to include these people in the list and to conduct free RTPCR and other necessary tests to weed out those who have been infected by the Covid-19 virus. People are struggling for food and it is the responsibility of an elected government to support these people, getting 4000 rupees through ration cards and food kits will not solve the problem.”
The MDMK leader Vaiko and VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan has already come out against excluding the elderly people from MGNREGA scheme and has called upon the government to take urgent measures to prevent starvation deaths among this section of the populace.
Subbalakshmi, 59, a widow from rural Nilgiris while speaking to BPNS said, “I was living mainly depending on the MGREGA wages and when the department banned we, people, from being engaged under this scheme it was a bolt from the blue. I have a daughter who is not married to support to and most of the days, we are in starvation. Tears have dried down and no to help.”
Rural Department officials told BPNS that the department has already sent a proposal to revoke the portion of the earlier order excluding this section of people from the scheme and is expecting a reply from the government any day.