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Tripura CM leads rally against funds cuts in MNREGA

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ANUMEHA YADAV

 
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and Polit Buro member Brinda Karat particiapte in a MNREGA workers' rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and Polit Buro member Brinda Karat particiapte in a MNREGA workers’ rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

As against the State’s requirement of Rs. 1400 crore for rural works, the Centre had allocated only Rs. 650 crore this year, he said.

Tripura Chief Minister and CPI (Marxist) Politburo member Manik Sarkar on Wednesday led a protest against what he described as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government’s “draconian attack” on rural livelihoods guarantee through MNREGA.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his election campiagn, had tried to reach out to the poor by speaking of “achche din” and promising to take care of hunger and problems faced by the poor but once elected, he had started attacking rights of the poor under MNREGA.

“MNREGA is demand-driven but instead of responding to rural demands for work, the government wants to make it allocation-based. As opposed to a demand for Rs 60,000 crores for implementing MNREGA in 2008, UPA government allotted Rs 40,000 crores which it reduced to Rs 33,000 crores in 2010. Modi government proposes to further restrict who gets work and where by restricting it to only 200 districts. They propose to change the labour and material ratio from 60:40 currently to 51:49 which will cut funds for wages,”said CM Sarkar addressing protestors at Jantar Mantar.

He cited the instance of Tripura where instead of the State’s requirement of Rs. 1400 crore for rural works, the Central Government had allocated Rs. 650 crore this year.

“This funds cut means 50 per cent of MNREGA cardholders will be deprived of work. This is depsite Tripura leading in MNREGA implementation, providing 80 days of work annually to poor households on an average every year, twice the national average of 40 workdays a year,”said Mr. Sarkar.

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, former Union Minister for Panchayati Raj Mani Shankar Aiyar of Congress, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat and politburo members Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury attended the protest. Mr. Yechury described how CPI(M) leaders had raised the question in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour pointing out that against the budegt estimate of Rs.40,000 crore only Rs. 20,428 crore had been released. CPI(M) members staged a walkout after Tripura MP SP Dutta made a submission on MNREGA cuts in the House.

“In response to RTI, we have got the information that the central government has denied MNREGA funds to Bihar, Chattisgarh, West Bengal despite demand for work under MNREGA. Ïn Rajasthan, 4000 rural households have collected Rs 3.6 lakhs a rally in Delhi on December 2 against the attack on MNREGA and dilution of people’s rights over food, work, land,” said social activist Aruna Roy of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS).

Demand for work, shortage of funds

As per these public documents obtained under RTI, Secretary, Rural Development, Bihar had written to Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) in August saying the State had received only Rs. 256.4 crores against the State’s request for release of Rs. 1082.4.

Earlier this year, in March, West Bengal Minister Subrata Mukherjee had written to MoRD pointing out that though WB had acheived over 11 crore persondays between January and March, the State had received Rs. 2394 crore instead of its request for Rs. 3838 crore.

A letter from Chief Secretary Chhattisgarh to MoRD in April states that the state had requested Rs 600 crores to meet demand for work in Chhattisgarh against which only Rs 125 crores had been released. “Despite demand for work between second and third week of March, the number of works had to be lowered from 9.97 lakhs to 9.86 lakhs..villagers feel constrained to migrate to other areas for distress-employment..In a state like ours plagued by left-wing extremism you can well appreciate the ramifications of such a situation,”notes the letter by Chief Secretary Vivek Dhand to Secretary, MoRD.

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