Prestone Tynsong
Meghalaya Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong. File image

The recent statement of Meghalaya deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong “Let them eat vegetables” reminded me of Marie-Antoinette, the Queen of France who insulted her officials with her very famous words “Let them eat cake” before she eventually faced the guillotine.

His statement “Let them eat vegetables and not meat” is not just insulting to the common man but is also indicative of the insensitivity and arrogance of the individual.

Tynsong, who recently revealed his love for Jaitbynriew at a function, seems to have suddenly misplaced his love in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.

Last year, he had said that the Labour Department will deposit Rs. 2100 in the respective bank accounts of the beneficiaries. Sad to say, that two beneficiaries recently informed me that they had till date not received this money.

Since independent enquiries and demands for resignation are the flavour of the season, the Chief Minister must remove Tynsong and initiate an independent inquiry to unearth this financial embezzlement.

In what appears to be a case of complete mismanagement of financial relief meant for daily wage Labourers during the COVID lockdown since last year, it is slowly surfacing that many of the beneficiaries did not receive the entire amount of Rs. 2100 for three weeks and some only got partial payment.

It was only last year that the State government through the office of the Labour Commissioner launched the Chief Minister’s Relief Against Wage Loss Scheme (CRAWL) in order to provide relief to wage earners/labourers/petty traders etc. during the period of lockdown.

Of late, it appears that many of these beneficiaries are coming forward to reveal that the Labour Dept. has not carried out this project properly thereby denying many of the beneficiaries of this critical and crucial help. Had not activists like Angela Rangad brought out this issue, many of us would still be in the dark.

Another such scheme to compensate wage loss to construction workers registered with the Meghalaya Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board on account of shutdown due to COVID for an amount of Rs. 1000 per week per beneficiary was also announced around the same time.

As per figures available in the public domain, about 25,684 registered construction workers are registered. I sincerely hope that this scheme is not facing a similar end.

While people especially the poor, the farmers and daily wage labourers are crying in this trying time because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has robbed them of their livelihoods, what is disheartening to hear is the disappearance of money that was sanctioned and meant to be disbursed to the daily wage earners through the State Labour Department.

I think the Labour department should come clean with facts and figures to clear the air and set to rest the feeling that crores and crores of public money have been misappropriated by the Labour Dept. giving weightage to the proverb “making hay while the sun shines”.

DR KHRAWPYRKHAT BASAIAWMOIT

Andheri East, Mumbai

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