TNN | Oct 23, 2014, 02.34 AM IST

PATNA: Jean Dreze, development economist who has been influential in Indian economic policymaking, has decided to observe ‘black Diwali’ in Muzaffarpur district on Thursday in protest against non- payment of wages to 3,000 and odd MNREGA workers in six blocks of the district.Dreze, currently a visiting professor at Ranchi University, will stage the daylong dharna at Mahant Manihari panchayat bhawan under Kurhani block. “I am reaching Muzaffarpur on Thursday morning,” he told TOI over phone.

It was Dreze who drafted the first version of NREGA (now MNREGA). He was a member of the National Advisory Council of India under UPA-I and II governments.

Talking to TOI over phone, Sanjay Sahni, convener of the Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sangathan which is spearheading the agitation, said at least 3,000 MNREGA workers in Muzaffarpur district have not been paid their wages for six months. The total outstanding is to the tune of Rs one crore, he said.

“We have informed the officials concerned, but to no avail. Prof Dreze is coming to support our cause. He will also investigate the matter regarding the non-payment as well as low wages to MNREGA workers,” Sahni said.

Sahni, who has featured on Amir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate, alleged MNREGA workers were getting Rs 60 against prescribed Rs 162 per as wages day.