New Delhi, February 12: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged non-release of central funds for workers in West Bengal under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), urging the central government to facilitate the release of the funds. He highlighted that lakhs of workers have been denied work and wages under MGNREGS due to the stoppage of central funds to West Bengal since March, 2022, and many workers have not been paid for work completed in 2021 due to shortfall of funds.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, or MGNREGA, was introduced in 2005 under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime to ensure 'right to work' for people in rural areas. It ensured 100-day wage employment in a financial year for at least one member of every household, with adult members willing to do unskilled manual work. Taking to 'X', Gandhi wrote, "Through a letter, the Prime Minister's attention was drawn towards the plight of MNREGA workers in West Bengal. Today, when the country is going through a period of back-breaking inflation and severe unemployment, MNREGA has proved to be an economic shield for the poor." Congress MP Rahul Gandhi Writes to PM Narendra Modi, Highlights Plight of MGNREGS Workers in West Bengal
"But the neglect of this revolutionary scheme by the Central Government is causing sorrow and problems for lakhs of families in West Bengal, especially women and Dalit and tribal communities. It is expected that the Prime Minister will take this matter seriously and resolve it quickly," he added, Earlier today, Rahul Gandhi, in his letter to the PM, wrote, "I am writing to you regarding the devastating plight of MGNREGA workers in West Bengal and their relentless fight for justice. During my recent visit to West Bengal as part of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, a delegation of MGNREGA workers from Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti apprised me of the issues faced by them."
"Lakhs of our brothers and sisters have been denied work and wages under MGNREGS due to the stoppage of central funds to West Bengal since March, 2022. I was informed that many workers have not been paid for work completed in 2021 due to shortfall of funds. Moreover, there has been a drastic decline in the number of households availing work from 75 lakh oin 2021-22 to under 8000 households in 2023-24. This massive scale down has been brutal on the most vulnerable- women and ST and SC households," he further said.
"The lack of MGNREGS work and pending wages have forced many to make hard choices-particularly distress migration," Gandhi added. The Congress leader further highlighted that the UPA government, 18 years ago, chose a radical new path of social and economic justice by guaranteeing the right to work for the rural communities. He further urged the central government to facilitate the release of funds to clear pending wages. Rahul Gandhi Stopped From Entering Temple: Will PM Narendra Modi Now Decide Who Will Visit a Temple, Asks Congress Leader (Watch Video)
"I request the Union Government facilitate the release of funds to clear pending wages and ensure that the demand for work is met. I believe that we have a duty to rise above our political differences to uphold social, political and economic justice," he said. The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has consistently protested against the central government, citing delays in fund allocation for initiatives such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and other social security programs in the state.
However, the Ministry of Rural Development stated that the release of funds for West Bengal was stopped on March 9, 2022, in accordance with Section 27 of MGNREGA because of the state's non-compliance with the directives of the central government. In December last year, a ten-member delegation led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged delay in the release of MGNREGA funds to the state.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the West Bengal CM claimed, "A ten-member delegation, including our MPs, met the PM today. I urged the PM to release the funds due to the state. He said there will be joint meetings between officials from the Centre and West Bengal on this," the CM said. "We are not getting the money for the poor under the 100-day work scheme. It is mandatory, under the Constitution, that this money be given. During the rains that wreaked havoc on 22-23, our state did not get any money under the 100-day work scheme. Money for the extra days of work, the PM Awas Yojana scheme, the rural development scheme, and the Health Mission scheme have also been put on hold. We are not getting money for the Finance Commission either," she added.
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