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October 14, 2014

Leading economists write to PM against NREGA dilution, Trinamool stand vindicated

Leading economists write to PM against NREGA dilution, Trinamool stand vindicated

Twenty eight Indian economists wrote the Prime Minister and expressed their concern about NREGA's future, saying that they were alarmed to hear the moves to dilute or restrict provisions of the Act. The economists urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the programme receives all the support it requires to survive and thrive.

Trinamool Congress has been pointing this out from long back that the Center's whimsical decision will be a danger to the country's poor people.

On various occasions, Trinamool has been vocal about the issue on social media as well as within the hallowed portals of the Parliament. WB CM had posted on her Facebook page regarding the issue in August, 2014 while Trinamool MPs raised the issue in both the Houses of the parliament.

5 August: Trinamool Chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee's Facebook post reads:
Bengal ranked No.1 in the country in terms of expenditure under 100-days work in 2013-14. We exceeded our budget and recorded highest-ever expenditure of more than Rs.5600 Crore.
In spite of such achievement, Central Government has not released its full share of funds to the State Government so far. Nearly Rs.885 Crore is still pending. Poor people are not getting their wages.
Now there is a hearsay that 100-days work will be run in some select Blocks of the country on intensified mode.
What would then happen to the poor people of other Blocks? Would they be deprived of work?
Attacks on statutory rights of the downtrodden people are not acceptable.
Why such action?
Why poor people will be deprived?
Why this discrimination?
Why New Government is insensitive about the poor people?

On August 14, 2014, AITC MP Derek O'Brien spoke in Rajya Sabha on the Centre's decision to implement MNERGA in a few blocks only. This what he said in his speech:

West Bengal's approved budget for the implementation of MGNREGA in the previous financial year was Rs 6124.98 crores of which the central share was supposed to be Rs 5512 crores. The State received only Rs 2894.38 crores against the promised Rs 5500 crores.

On account of reduced funding from the centre, the state share payable fell to Rs 321.60 crores. However, the state government released an enhanced share of Rs 424.44 crores to make up for the Centre's shortfall in an understanding that it would be adjusted during 2014-15.

2014-2015, again began with a pending liability of Rs 1962.15 crores. The first tranche of the central share was released in April 2014 and the state received only Rs 1782.99 crores, a sum not enough to cover even the Centre's liability from the previous year. The State Government once again released an additional sum of Rs 400 crores. As of today, the Centre's liability towards West Bengal stands at Rs 1962.67 crores.

The Ministry of Rural Development has asked states to identify 2500 backward blocks for an Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise for MGNREGA for the coming financial year. There are 124 such blocks in West Bengal. The stated objective of the exercise is to intensify planning in the identified blocks. There are apprehensions that all future MGNREGA activities would be concentrated in these blocks only. Such a measure would be against the spirit of the MGNREGA which stipulates 100 days assured employment on demand to every job card-holder.

In 2012-13, West Bengal had achieved a total man days of about 20 crores which was 109% higher than the national target. In 2013-14, the State was able to exceed its target once again. The West Bengal Government is committed to the MGNREGA program and could have made giant strides in implementing the scheme had the state not been starved of funds. The Government must implement the scheme in its true spirit and not resort to the intensification of the scheme in a few blocks to the neglect of others.

On August 7, 2014, AITC MP Saugata Roy spoke in Lok Sabha on 100 Days Work Scheme. This what he said in his speech:

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was introduced in this country to give minimum 100 Days Work to the rural poor. First, it started with certain number of blocks, then, it was made effective in all rural blocks of this country.

West Bengal was one of the States which implemented the scheme effectively, especially during the present government. In 2013-14, West Bengal had spent Rs 5600 crore on the scheme, which was an all India record. But, the Central Government is not paying its share in the scheme. Till now, Rs 885 crore is due from the Centre to West Bengal on MGNREGS. The West Bengal Chief Minister has protested against this non-payment and she has demanded that this amount be paid immediately. Otherwise, the poor people in rural areas cannot be paid their wages due to the Hundred Days Work.

Now again, the Central Government is proposing to keep MGNREGS alive in only a few selected blocks in this country. This will be an anti-people step, because question will arise, what will the poor do in other blocks of the country?

I demand that West Bengal be immediately paid its dues so that wages to rural poor may be paid and the scheme be kept alive in all the rural blocks of the country.

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