Sitamarhi district, Kusmari village. Nirsi Devi and Sita Devi of Kusmari village in Riga block of the district have been planting and caring for hundreds of plants for the last three years but the administration has conveniently forgotten to pay them for their service to the environment.
The afforestation project was initiated by the Panchayat Samiti. Nirsi and Sita have been rearing the plants since June 2011 and have planted close to 500 plants. Not only this, they have also actively cared for these plants. But they haven’t been paid even once. The department responsible for this said that when funds are released, the women will be paid but only if the plants thrive. As a result, even without payment, they have to ensure the plants are taken care of and are alive. When they did a stocktaking 2 months ago, Nirsi and Sita have 400 plants accounted for.
Nirsi said that they depend on daily wages but when one hasn’t been paid for so long, one tends to lose interest in the work as well. She said they are now working only with the hope that one day they will be paid for their hard work.
Umesh, a member of the Panchayat Samiti, said that he has registered a complaint about the delay in the release of funds both at the District and State levels but to no avail. Only when the funds are released, will they be able to make payments to people like Nirsi and Sita. Programme Officer Kripashankar Jha said that money for projects undertaken by the Panchayat Samiti hasn’t come yet. This project was being carried out under the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee act) and information on the Act is available on the internet for people to look it up themselves.
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