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Shillong: A public hearing organised by Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) on the COVID-19 financial assistance assured by the Meghalaya government brought forth startling facts. Several beneficiaries have not received assistance, even as the government claimed to have made the transfers.

TUR, consisting of the Meghalaya Domestic Workers Movement, Meghalaya & Greater Shillong Progressive Hawkers and Street Vendors Association, organised the public hearing on Friday at Cathedral Hall, Laitumukhrah, Shillong.

Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of India Justice Madan J Lokur was among the panellists. The others included Retired Indian Ambassador and Diplomat Rudi Warjri, Meghalaya Society for Social Audit and Transparency, Aitinora Myrthong, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Nikhil Dey, and civil society member Rev. Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh.

The public hearing provided an open forum for workers, representatives of unions, and other civil society organisations. It may be mentioned that during the first wave of COVID-19 the Meghalaya government had assured to provide ex gratia relief of Rs 2,100 and Rs 5,000 in the form of income support for unorganized sector workers adversely affected by the pandemic (under the scheme called Chief Minister’s Relief Against Wage Loss (CRAWL) and for workers registered with Meghalaya Building And Other Construction Workers Board.

TUR leader Angela Rangad has been following up on this issue and had even filed an RTI and also filed several complaints regarding this issue. Speaking with EastMojo, Rangad said that this hearing intends that every person who deserves the assistance and meets the criteria has to get what was promised to them.

“We have realised that more than a year and yet things have not been rectified, and that is why we wanted the people to come and speak for themselves,” said Rangad.

Disappointed with the failure of the labour dept to appear and participate in the public hearing, Rangad stated that it shows that they disregard the processes of democracy.

She further informed that almost 200 people wanted to testify about receiving partial payments or not receiving anything at all.

“Many issues have been placed before the panel, and they have even given their suggestions,” said Rangad.

Several of the domestic workers participated in the forum.

For bank transfers, the government had relied on SBI, HDFC Bank and Rural Bank for support. Among these banks, the general manager of HDFC Bank, Shillong, attended the public hearing and also participated in the discussion.

He informed the bank’s job was to transfer the money to the given accounts. He stated that they cannot alter any of the details given and also faced transfers being rejected due to invalid accounts or some other issues.

Justice Madan J Lokur said, “The government had understood the seriousness of the problem that is why the govt announced the scheme, so similarly they should be serious about implementing it and not just leave it like that.”

Also read | Meghalaya reports 21 new Covid cases; tally reaches 84,664

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