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100-day protest planned to save 100-day work scheme 

NREGA Sangharsh Morcha says the scheme is under attack from Union government

January 25, 2023 05:48 am | Updated January 26, 2023 10:22 am IST - Kolkata

From February 2, members of the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha will organise 100-day protests at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest against the “attacks” on the MGNREGS or 100-day work in the country. Anuradha Talwar, a member of the morcha, said there had been a long history of 17-18 years before the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was implemented in 2005-06 but at present the scheme was constantly under attack from the Union government.

Ms. Talwar, who held a press conference on denial of MGNREGS wages in West Bengal on Tuesday, said the scheme was facing attack in different States and workers from different parts of the country would participate in the 100-day protest. On February 2, which is observed as MGNREGS Action Day in the country, the Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) will stage a demonstration across West Bengal about the issue of pending wages.

The Calcutta High Court on January 9 had directed District Magistrates  to “take appropriate action” in the imbroglio relating to implementation of the MGNREGS after the PBKMS provided details of the aggrieved workers. 

Referring to the order, Ms. Talwar said the Samity was disappointed with the order as it was incumbent on the workers’ union to provide details of pending wages to the District Magistrates. Referring to a recently published report, she said ₹6,842 crore was the loss of wages in West Bengal because of the denial of the wages and non-implementation of the scheme in 2022.

‘Going hungry’

 Dipali Mahato, a worker from Purulia, said while her payment of MGNREGS wages had been denied owing to the tussle between the Centre and the State, none of the government employees had been denied any salary.  “Our children are going hungry and we cannot send them to school. We have to migrate out of the State for work,” Ms. Mahato said.

 Swapan Ganguly of the PBKMS said wages of workers in West Bengal had been pending since December 26, 2021. “Even if there are irregularities and corruption in the implementation of the scheme, which we are not denying, why should the workers suffer because of that,” Mr. Ganguly said. While the Centre claims that there are irregularities in the implementation of the scheme, the West Bengal government alleges that the State is being targeted for political reasons. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has raised the issue of pendency of MGNREGS wages several times with the Centre, including during her personal interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

 

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