National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) is deeply shocked and pained to know of the tragic, on-site death of 10 NREGA women workers two days back in Teeleru, Telangana, primarily due to official apathy. This is in addition to another woman worker Ch. Lakshmi battling for life and 5 other women injured, even as officials estimate an increase in casualties.
As per survivor accounts and field reports, the incident occurred at about 10:30 am on the morning of 10th April, at the Y.Tippagutta NREGA worksite, Teeleru panchayat, Marikal Mandal, Narayanpet Dist, when after completion of trench digging work in the scorching heat, 30 workers were taking rest at the foot of a small hillock. It was at this moment that about 30 tractor-load mounds of mud and clay pellets came cascading on them, leading to the immediate death of the 10 women workers. While lack of safe shades for rest seems to be the primary reason for this tragedy, it also appears that irresponsible excavation work by the contractor has triggered the deaths.
Organizations associated with NAPM in Telangana including Dalit Bahujan Front, Samalochana, Upadhi Hami Phone Radio, Telangana Vyavasaya Vruttdarula Union as well as national platforms like the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, have for over a decade now, been raising concerns related to safety and welfare of NREGA workers, which have not been adequately taken on board and addressed by the authorities. This incident is a cruel and unforgivable consequence of the neglect of the same.
NAPM demands a minimum of Rs. 50 lakhs as compensation to the families of each of the deceased women, to be disbursed within a week. Govt. must assume full responsibility for the education of the children of the deceased as well as health care of injured workers.
It also seek to register FIR against officials and contractors legally responsible for provision of employment and safety at the concerned worksite. It also demanded an independent judicial probe into the circumstances leading to the tragic death and fixing accountability at the highest levels of administrative and political decision-making.