KOLKATA: West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala’s Left Front government had led the fight for proper implementation of NREGA. This infact took another proportion when West Bengal said that proper resource sharing mechanism on the issues of NREGA will be absolutely needed. The fight that the Left Front particularly the CPI(M) fought against the bureaucratic decisions of the UPA led government infact made the UPA bow down.
Mentionable that the 100days work itself under the NREGA scheme was forced upon the UPA government by the Left parties as right to work was an essential demand primarily of the Left parties. Although now the Congress is trying to take credit of this but the bitter fact remains that probably the Congress if returned to power is planning to weaken the national rural employment generation programme. An indication of this wily design has already been manifested by the current budget where for 2009-2010 Rs 55,170 crore has been allocated for the ministry, a decrease of 14.93 per cent from 2008-09. Quite understandably, the World Bank in its 2009 World Human Development report has slammed the NREGA as a policy barrier to the internal mobility. Therefore it is not surprising that a concerted attempt is being made by the UPA to carry on a vicious campaign against the propagator of NREGA i.e. the LEFT parties due to whose emphasis the UPA government had been forced to adopt this landmark scheme.
Infact in the first phase of the implementation of NREGA about 2 out of the 4 districts in west Bengal where NREGA had been carried out has received awards from the Central Government. The rest two missed the prize by whiskers. Out of the 18 districts of the West Bengal where NREGA is being carried out in 2008-2009 financial year a total of 11 lakh 68 thousand 428 families or 15 lakh 37229 people has got work under this scheme according to Central government report only. On the other hand the number of districts covered under the NREGA in Rajasthan, Orrissa, Madhyapradesh Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra has been more. Currently in West Bengal work is going on under NREGAin 59thousand 868projects. This is also because of the extra emphasis of the NREGA on earthwork which perhaps is not entire suitable for a state like West Bengal which itself is agriculturally advanced. Also West Bengal government has many times urged the centre and the bureaucrats in including rural community resource creation within the scope of work of NREGA. However with West Bengal’s elected Panchayets and the mechanism of participation of the village governments within the scope of 100 days work has also given an entirely new dimension to the NREGA work in west Bengal. The minimum wage under the NREGA has also been increased by the West Bengal government. Recently West Bengal has been awarded one of the four first prizes of Rs 1.50 crores for good performance of PRIs , its Panchayet system once again has been regarded as one of the best mechanisms of the country.
According to sources in Panchayet and Rural Development department, Government of West Bengal, more than 41lakh bank or post office accounts have been opened so far. Out of which, 13 lakh 18 thousand 174 has been joint accounts. The minister in charge of Rural development and Panchayets Bankim Ghosh has said that emphasis has been given to open joint accounts under NREGA. Extra emphasis had been given on rain water harvesting horticulture and allied activities. Emphasis has also been given to do work under the NREGA in the 4612 backward villages of the state. Mentionable that West Bengal has also been the first state in the entire country when it comes to identify its backward villages and to plan accordingly.
According to Central Government statistics till the month of February this year ,a total of 9175528 household has been issued job cards till the latest reporting month out of which 3258257 are from schedule caste background, 962560 from ST background, and 4954711 coming from others background. Here it can be mentioned that the work under the NREGA in the state had been started in phases and the latest addition being the Howrah district. In the month of February 2009 itself a total of 934237 people were working under the NREGA in different districts of West Bengal. The Total number of cumulative person days generated under NREGA in West Bengal has been 576.46846 (lakh days) out of which 220.74443(lakh days) has been for schedule castes 90.041599(lakh days) for ST, 142.32229(lakh days) are for women and the rest 265.68244(lakh days) for people belonging to other castes. Out of this a total of 235385 families working in NREGA have also been benefitted due to land reforms in the state and 24970 have been disabled persons who have got work under NREGA in the different districts of west Bengal. Mentionable that due to Panchayet elections in West Bengal work suffered to some extent in NREGA due to the NREGA guidelines and the election regulation. In the Trinamool controlled Zilla Parishads also work has suffered to a greater extent due to non cooperation by those Zilla Parishad. Also due to the agitation in the Darjeeling district. By the GJM and the subsequent ban on NREGA work by the GJM has also hampered the work in that district. In portions of West Medinipore i.e. in Lalgarh and the Maoist insurgency prone areas work on NREGA has suffered due to demand of money by the Maoists. In the September –October month also work suffered due to the opposition fuelled unrest in parts of West Medinipore and Bankura and Purulia.
However after the common people resisted to these evil designs, now work again is on full swing in these areas. West Bengal is also faring well in number of Gramsabha held in each villages and the State government recently has also announced a policy decision in this regard and has declared that the state government will not release own funds of the gram Panchayets until and unless the gram sabha’s are held regularly in the village Panchayets of the state. In the year 2008 -2009 a total of 1337 complaints were lodged and more than 77 percent of the complaints have been disposed of already in other cases investigations has been taken up by proper authorities.