September 9, 2010

Buddhadeb blames Centre for not releasing MGNREGA fund

BS Reporter / Kolkata September 1, 2010, 0:22 IST

West Bengal's Left Front government, already feeling the heat as 11 districts of the state remain drought-stricken ahead of the expected hustings next year, has trained its guns on the Centre for holding back crucial funds for alternative employment generation through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act (MGNREGA).

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, speaking at the 51st anniversary of the CPI-led food movement here today, said that the Union government is yet to disburse the full amount of Rs 1,400 crore required for MGNREGA.

“I have written to the Prime Minister and told Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, but haven't received the amount yet. If they don't give the money, what will we (state government) tell the farmers? What will these farmers do without work?” he said.

Bhattacharjee, who visited some drought-affected districts of the state last week, had also earlier requested the Centre to send a team to review the situation in these afflicted areas.

Paddy-sowing has not been possible across about 11 lakh hectares in West Bengal, the country's largest rice producer, this year due to a 30 per cent deficit in rainfall.

Although the state government has decided to pump in an additional Rs 50 crore to salvage the situation, alternative employment remains of importance.

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