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November 27, 2014

Trinamool opposes the dilution of MNREGA in Rajya Sabha

Trinamool opposes the dilution of MNREGA in Rajya Sabha

Trinamool MPs Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, Nadimul Haque, Debabrata Bandyopadhyay today opposed the government’s move to dilute the MNREGA scheme. They spoke during a Calling Attention Motion.

Sukhendu Shekhar Roy said that the issue of dilution of the scheme is a matter of great concern. He asked the Government, in the last six months how much money was spent towards wages for those who work under MNREGA in the Rajya Sabha.

Attacking the Centre, Nadimul Haque said that the word Guarantee should be dropped from the name of the scheme because ever since the new government came into power, not even a single day of work has been created.

Is the Govt serious about continuing the scheme or wants to shut it down, asked Debabrata Bandyopadhyay.

Sukhendu Shekhar Roy’s speech:

Sir, according to the United Nations Human Development Report 2014, 1/3 of the poorest of the poor people of the World live in India and their number is 40 crore, which is in fact 1/3 of our total population. And according to us, this scheme MNREGA was a relief for the poorest of the poor section of our country who are being deprived for centuries together. Now the way the Government has taken some stringent measures to slash the allocation under MNREGA in different States is a matter of serious concern.

The Hon’ble Minister in his reply has stated that the MNREGA was initially implemented in 200 most backward districts and subsequently 130 districts included. True. My question to the Hon’ble Minister is whether the Government has any plan to put the cloth back and to reduce the number of districts from 330 to 200 only as reported in a section of page.

Sir, number two, this Government, the Hon’ble Minister has claimed that during the last 8 years around Rs 180000 crore has been paid as wages to the workers. What is the figure during the past six months that the new Government has taken over how much money has been paid towards wages to the workers under MNREGA?

Thirdly, the Hon’ble Minister in his reply has stated that in 2013-2014 the total allocation was Rs 33,000 crores and this year it is Rs3 4,000 crores. So Rs 1000 crore has been increased in this year’s Budget. So, if we divide Rs 1000 crore among 29 states and 7 Union Territories, then it comes to Rs 27-28 crore for each State. What is the end result? Instead of raising the quantum of the allocation, this Government has slashed the allocation in a manner that in my State, in West Bengal the allocation which was Rs 2,214 crores in the last Financial year that is 2013-2014 it has come down to 1072 crore.

My Chief Minister, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal Smt Mamata Banerjee was the first among the Chief Ministers of the country to write a letter to the Government protesting against the reduced allocation of the fund.

Sir, in 2012-2013, West Bengal achieved total man days of 20 crore which is 109% higher than the national average. And in 2013-2014 the State again exceeded the targets even though the allocation has been slashed. This Government has put an economic blockade to West Bengal particularly to the poorest of the poor. It is not only unique in West Bengal and it is equally true in cases of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha and many other states.

I would like to point out that according to the daily updated information system maintained by the Ministry of Rural Development, over 10.6 crore household had applied for work till November 25, this year over 10.3 crore household had applied and work has been provided to only 8.3 crore leaving 2.8 crore household without work. In the previous year during the same period work was provided to 9.8 crore household out of 10.9 crore household. This is the difference that the new government has taken, ‘achhe din a gaye hai’?

I am referring to one particular district of Gujarat. From there our Hon’ble Prime Minister hails. In the tribal dominated district of Aravali in Gujarat, the job guarantee scheme never really got off. Wahaan kaam shuru hi nehi huwa, mere sarkar se prathena yeh hai aap MNREGA ko bandh karna chahate hai, MNREGA ka paisa kaha dena chahate hai? Woh crony capitalist ko lootne ke liye, hamare mazdoor , hamare gaon ki kisan, hamare gaon ki aam janta, unko paisa nehi milega, paisa milega woh crony capitalist ko.

Sir, the issued raised by Mr Jairam Ramesh – the change in the labour to material ratio – is very important. Government is proposing for a reduction of material to labour ratio from 60 -40 to 51-49. This change will dilute the employment objective of the scheme without increasing the productivity. The entire productivity will come to a grinding halt.
I appeal to the government to reconsider and review its stand and try to enhance more allocation under MNREGA. Thank You Sir.
Nadimul Haque’s speech:

On the Employment Guarantee Scheme I think, Sir, the name should be changed. This Guarantee part should be dropped because two crore rural landless people who have applied for work, not even one of them have got a single day of work since this Government has come into power.

Does the Government realise the seriousness of the situation and by not implementing this scheme they are defeating the purpose of this whole programme? They have cut the allocation from Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 13,000 crore in the April to September quarter. Sir, this is double standards. They are not abolishing the Scheme but at the same time they are starving it of funds. So instead of having this double standard,

Sir, you should stop the scheme. If you are not interested in carrying out the scheme you should simply stop it.

Sir, West Bengal is one of the best, it is the best in fact, performing State in this Scheme. Instead of rewarding it we are punishing it. Sir, reduction in this Scheme is going to hit Karnataka, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh. These states Sir, have a huge rural population. And even the arid areas of Rajasthan are going to be affected with it. Sir, this scheme is being implemented in 2500 blocks. Why is the Government looking to reduce these blocks I cannot understand, Sir.

In MNREGA, as Speakers before me had said Sir, for every Rs 100 spent, Rs 60 is given for labour component and the rest in the material component. Our demand, Sir, is that it should not be changed to Rs 51 in the labour component and Rs 49 in the material component. Instead, Sir, we suggest that the Government should take technical assistance and expert help in implementing this Scheme in the Gram Panchayat levels.

Sir, my last point is that… Is the Minister aware that 15 of India’s leading economists have opposed this proposal to divide the Scheme, Sir? Is this Government going to ignore their view, or are they only going to implement the view of one person, Sir? The country wants to know; that is my question, Sir.

Debabrata Bandyopadhyay’s speech:

The Budget provision for NREGA was Rs 33,000 crore in 2013-14 and this year it is Rs 34,000 crore. If we take into account inflation, the allocation is lower compared to last year. Is the Govt serious about continuing the scheme or wants to shut it down.