Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government is trying to close the rural job scheme MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).
“The present central government is gradually curtailing the allocation of funds under the MGNREGA to close the rural job scheme,” Sarkar said while addressing a meeting of the Tripura State Employment Guarantee Council here on Monday evening.
The issue was also discussed on Tuesday during a state cabinet meeting chaired by Sarkar.
“The Council of Ministers have decided that Tripura’s Rural Development Minister, along with three Members of Parliament belonging to the state, would meet Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar soon in New Delhi.
“They will urge the government to maintain the scheme and due allocation to the state under the scheme,” Tripura Information and Food Minister Bhanulal Saha told reporters on Tuesday after the cabinet meeting.
He said: “In the outgoing financial year, Tripura has provided around 79 man-days of rural jobs per household under the MGNREGA, but in the forthcoming financial year (2017-18), as per the indication of central allocation, the state would be able to provide only 38 to 42 man-days of jobs per household under the scheme.”
The Chief Minister also told the Council meeting on Monday evening that to deprive the rural unemployed people of jobs and to serve the interests of the wealthy, the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government would likely discontinue MGNREGA.
“Tripura has provided around 79 man-days’ rural jobs per household under the MGNREGA so far in the outgoing financial year (2016-17), but it is likely to be 83 days by the end of the year. The national average in this regard is 43 days only,” an official quoted the Chief Minister as saying in the meeting.
While the rest of the country lags, Left-ruled Tripura retained its top position for the seventh consecutive year until the 2015-16 financial year in providing jobs under the MGNREGA — a staggering 94.46 man-days per household — against the national average of 48.85 days in that year.
The MGNREGA was introduced in February 2006 by the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
It mandates 100 days of work in a financial year to at least one member of each rural household, but this has never been achieved in any state. The scheme aims to generate rural assets and create rural infrastructure like roads.