A 20-year-old Odisha girl has been working as a daily wage labourer under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme to pay her pending dues in a private engineering college and get her engineering diploma certificate.
Roji Behera, a resident of Pipli block in Puri district, has been digging fields, carrying moulds of soil on her head to construct a road in her village. She earns ₹207 per day, reported Hindustan Times.
Her diploma certificate has been withheld for over a year as she could not clear her college due to the tune of ₹25,000.
Two of her sisters also work along with her, one of whom is pursuing B.Tech. Every day, they wake up in the morning, hit the field with shovel and mortar pan in their hands, and start their work.
"Though I completed my diploma in civil engineering from a private engineering college in Khurda district in 2019, I had pending dues of ₹44,000. My father could raise around ₹20,000, but I could not manage the rest. After sitting idle for over a year and a half, I decided to work as an MNREGS labourer for at least three months so that I can earn something," said Behera.
Behera said that she and her sisters are not being paid any wage since they started working.
She did not wish to reveal the name of her engineering college as it would hamper her chances of getting the certificate. The officials of the Directorate of Technical Education and Training said she could have met the officials of the State Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training for the certificate. "However, there may be some other pending dues which she has to clear before she gets her certificate," said an official.
The girl said she wants to clear her arrears first. "My father is a landless, poor farmer. The house which we are living in on someone else's land. For me, getting admission to a B Tech course is a priority. I am willing to slog as a labourer for the next few months to get my certificate," she added.
Delang block development officer Khirod Pradhan said he would inquire into the issue and help her in whatever way possible.