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Crisis Looms for West Bengal MGNREGA Laborers

Ms Jesika Minj

Assistant professor                             

Public Administration

Kalinga University

Central Fund Cling Threatens Societal Impact of MNREGA on West Bengal’s Poor Employment Schemes. The decision by the central government to cease funding for a program aimed at creating rural jobs has had a detrimental impact on villagers, as reported by Down to Earth. In June 2022, the government abruptly halted the implementation of the plan and stopped providing funds, citing corruption and irregularities in the state under Section 27 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005. The central government blocked the release of over Rs 7,500 crore of funds to West Bengal, with a wage liability of over Rs 2,762 crore, due to “non-compliance of directives.” As a result, rural residents in West Bengal are facing significant financial difficulties caused by the suspension of funding for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which has been ongoing for over a year. Moreover, the state’s labor budget for the Union Budget 2023–24 has not been approved.

In June 2022, the Centre abruptly ceased commissioning work and cut off funding for the plan. Invoking Section 27 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, referred to corruption and irregularities in the state. It was allowed to “order stoppage of the release of funds to the scheme” under this section.

Workers in the MGNREGS program are left with very little money after covering basic necessities such as food and clothing. According to Premchand, a significant portion of the workers’ daily compensation, around Rs 40, is deducted by the labor assigners. Despite this, the program still provides some relief in various aspects. West Bengal is the only state in the country where Section 27 of the Act has been invoked. This section empowers the Central Government to investigate complaints of improper fund utilization under the Act and, if necessary, halt the release of funds to the scheme. It also mandates that appropriate measures should be taken to ensure its proper implementation within a reasonable timeframe. “The scheme was a lifeline for all the workers, and even though they didn’t always get the full 100 days of work, but it  provided them  with a comfortable life.



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