NEW DELHI: A 10-member parliamentary delegation from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) met Union rural development minister Giriraj Singh on Thursday, demanding the clearance of pending wages under the MGNREGA scheme to West Bengal on Thursday.
TMC said that an amount of Rs 7,130 crore under the MGNREGA scheme is pending from December 26 till date. TMC Lok Sabha leader Sudip Banerjee alleges that the money has been withheld for 100 days of work.
The development is important as the West Bengal panchayat poll is scheduled in 2023 for which TMC has started establishing direct contact with the booth-level workers.
Earlier, on May 12 and June 9 this year, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to direct the concerned ministry to release all pending dues. The TMC parliamentary delegation also handed over the two letters to the Union Minister along with the memorandum.
The Union Minister had a 50-minute discussion with the Trinamool parliamentary delegation. Joint secretaries including the secretary of the ministry were present at the meeting.
According to the law, one hundred days’ wages cannot be withheld for more than 15 days. However, the central government has withheld money for the past six months. The state owes a total of Rs 7,130 crore for 100 days of work, says TMC. The central government has withheld the money even after submitting utilisation certificates (UCs), they alleged.
Six MPs from Lok Sabha and four from Rajya Sabha were present in the meeting with Singh.
Sudip Banerjee said that the ministry noticed some non-compliance with the guidelines. In response, he said, “At least 50 per cent of the entire outstanding amount needs to be released quickly.”
The Union Minister informed the Trinamool delegation that they would receive a reply to Mamata Banerjee’s letter within 48 hours. Moreover, the ministry proposed a meeting between the state officials and secretaries of the Central Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Rural Development regarding the issue. If necessary, the centre has proposed a meeting within 15 days.
Sudip Banerjee said, “Even if we do not agree with that proposal, we have to end the discussion somewhere. We have recorded our protest today.”