THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 17 AUGUST, 2014
Centre Slashes MGNREGA Funds in Tripura Amidst Protest
Tripura unhappy with slashing of MGNREGA funds
NEW DELHI: The Tripura government has protested against the decision of the Centre to cut down on funds on the rural job schemes via MGNREGA in the state which has topped for the fifth consecutive year in terms of providing the highest average employment.
The Left government in Tripura has expressed its dissatisfaction over Centre’s decision and has even urged the NDA government to at least restore the earlier funding, if not increase the funds, immediately .
Informing the media about this development, Tripura Rural Development and Forest Minister, Naresh Jamatia said “ The previous UPA government, during the last financial year, had allocated Rs.943.66 crore to implement the MGNREGA, but the present NDA government told us that it would give Rs.662 crore in the scheme for the current fiscal (2014-15)”.
Commenting that the Tripura government was instead hoping for a hike in the rural job scheme funds, he said “The central government was supposed to give around Rs.1,407 crore this fiscal to Tripura to implement the MGNREGA as was earmarked by the Central Government, but in a recent secretarial level meeting in New Delhi, the officials of the rural development ministry told our officials that it would give only Rs.662 crore."
The minister further stated that this notification from the Union Rural Development Ministry would have severe repercussions only leading to “slashing of rural employments in the state.”
Disclosing that he has written a letter to the Union Rural Development Ministry against the slashing of funds, he said “I have written to the Union Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari to kindly increase the allocation as earmarked earlier, otherwise the state would face acute financial crunch in giving jobs to the rural people”.
Jamatia said that in his letter he has explained that “if the allocation under the MGNREGA is reduced, automatically number of person-days (working days) per jobless rural household would be decreased”, adding "For the current fiscal over Rs.513 crore person-days have been fixed. Reduction of funds under the MGNREGA would also affect the creation of rural assets and create a fuss among the job seekers”.
He added that the state has rather asked for more funds and also demanded for increasing the number of backward blocks. "Now 15 blocks are identified as backward. We have demanded for increasing the number so that we could get more funds for the people living in the backward areas," he said.
Further, the State’s Rural Development Joint Secretary C.K. Jamatia pointing to the fact that Tripura has surpassed other states in providing employment to rural areas, he said that it’s only unfair that funds are being slashed.
“Tripura has been providing the highest average employment for the past five years under the MGNREGA” , he said giving data that the state provided 87 days of work per household in the 2013-14 fiscal against the national average of 45 person-days.
"Tripura has retained the top position since 2009-10. Another northeastern state, Sikkim came second with 58 person-days per household, followed by Tamil Nadu with 56 person-days," he added.