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West Bengal spars with Centre over MGNREGA dues

Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh has claimed that the Centre stepped in after West Bengal refused to comply to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme’s guidelines. Photo: purulia.gov.in

Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh has claimed that the Centre stepped in after West Bengal refused to comply to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme’s guidelines. Photo: purulia.gov.in

The Centre and the TMC-ruled West Bengal government had a run-in on Thursday over pending Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) dues worth ₹7,130 crores that the union government owes to the State for the last five months.

The TMC asserted that if the funds are not released at the earliest, they will have to take “andolan” (protest) route, while Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh has claimed that the Centre stepped in after the State outrightly refused to comply to the programme's guidelines.

A delegation of the TMC MPs led by Lok Sabha floor leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay met Mr. Singh on Thursday. In a memorandum submitted to Mr. Singh, the TMC has claimed that the money was not released despite, “proper submission of accounts with utilisation certificates by the State government for funds received earlier under the MGNREGA”.

The party further said that the Centre did not respond to any letters sent by the State government on the issue. “People working under this scheme who are supposed to be paid wages by the Centre are not getting it for the past six months because the State government has not received any funds from the government to pay them. Our CM has also sent two letters to the PM dated May 12 and June 9 on the issue. Under the Act we cannot deny them payment for more than 15 days and despite that their wages are being stalled," said Mr. Bandhopadhyay.

During a meeting, Mr. Bandhopadhyay said the Minister assured to respond to the TMC memorandum within 48-hours. "We hope that this is resolved soon. Otherwise, in the future, if we have to take the path of 'andolan" we will do so," Mr. Bandhopadhyay added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Singh rejected TMC's contention and blamed the State government for not following the guidelines which all other States are adhering to. Speaking to the reporters after his meeting with the TMC delegation, Mr. Singh said that the Centre is committed towards MGNREGA and has each year increased the budget for the programme.

He said, “the funds for West Bengal has been withheld because they do not comply to the MGNREGA guidelines, they have no independent social auditor to ensure transparency and accountability. For three-years, the Centre has reminded them repeatedly to follow the rules but there was no response from them. Eventually we were forced to take action.”


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 7:55:08 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/west-bengal-spars-with-centre-over-mgnrega-dues/article65533563.ece