The ruling CPI-M in Tripura will launch an agitation to protest against the “sharp reduction” in the allocation of funds by the Centre for the flagship rural jobs scheme — Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), party leaders said on Saturday.
“We will launch a massive agitation against sharp reduction in allocation of central government’s share of funds in MGNREGA. To start with, sit-in demonstrations will be held in all 58 blocks across the state on September 14,” Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Tripura state Secretary Bijan Dhar told reporters.
He said: “In the last many years, Tripura stood first in providing work under the flagship rural jobs scheme by providing work for 85 to 90 days a year.
“In the current fiscal year (2017-18), the government of India has sharply reduced its share of allocation of funds, due to which the state can provide work for maximum 42 days this year.”
Accompanied by CPI-M Central Committee member Gautam Das, the Left leader said ahead of the festive season, the people in rural areas were losing their earnings due to reduction of work days under the MGNREGA.
“As the central government is yet to give funds for the last financial year (2016-17), a serious job crisis has emerged in rural Tripura,” said Dhar, also a CPI-M Central Committee member.
He said although all the states in the country were facing a similar situation, no political party other than the CPI-M was raising the issue or asking the central government to act in a more considerate manner on MGNREGA.
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, ponds and water reservoirs.
The average wage rate in the country was Rs 161.87 per day per person in the last financial year.
The CPI-M has demanded an increase in the number of work days in a financial year to 200 and a hike in the wages to at least Rs 300 per day.
According to the state government officials, Left-ruled Tripura, which until fiscal 2015-16 had occupied the top spot in providing jobs under MGNREGA for seven consecutive years, slipped to second position with 79.88 person days per household in the last fiscal.
The state has been able to provide only 22 days of work during the current financial year so far.