Tripura officials in Bengal to study rural job performance

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Agartala : Officials from BJP-ruled Tripura are on a tour to Trinamool Congress-governed West Bengal to study the performance of the rural job scheme MGNREGA, an official said on Tuesday.

"Ten Tripura officials are on a tour in East Midnapore district since Monday to study the performance and execution of the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act)," a Tripura Rural Development Department official said.

Additional Secretary Pradip Kumar Chakraborty is heading the team which comprises of eight BDOs (Block Development Officer) -- one each from the eight districts -- and another senior officer from the department.

"The study was undertaken following an advice from the Union Ministry of Rural Development. The visiting officials would learn how better success could be achieved in executing the rural flagship job scheme," he added.

During the Left rule in Tripura, until 2015-16 fiscal, the state had occupied the top spot in the entire country for seven consecutive years in providing jobs under the MGNREGA.

In 2015-16 FY, average days of employment provided per household was 94.46.

In the current financial year (2018-19) so far, the Bharatiya Janata Party government has provided 14.21 days per household while in the last fiscal (2017-18) it was 33.68.

The MGNREGA, which is considered a pioneering rights-based legislation in the world, 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 was Rs 161.87 per day per person in the last financial year.

The opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front leaders are constantly saying that there are huge crisis of food and rural jobs in the interior and tribal dominated areas in the state.

Former Tripura Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo member Manik Sarkar said that for the past five months the lives and livelihood of the common people are at stake as the jobs for the poor and tribals under MGNREGA and the Tripura Urban Employment Programme, launched by his government, had dwindled.

"When people are dying in the absence of rural, urban jobs and other scheme-based works, BJP activists and the party-sponsored goons continue to attack opposition party supporters, their homes and assets, including destroying 54 rubber gardens and poisoning a huge number of fishing ponds.

"Over 2,500 opposition party members and supporters, including 125 women were injured in the hundreds of attacks by the ruling party activists," Sarkar told the media here on Tuesday.

A fact-finding team comprising farmers and political leaders, including Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar, said: "An undeclared Emergency-like situation prevails in Tripura ever since the BJP-IPFT alliance won the Assembly polls on March 3. Law and order has collapsed."

Patkar visited the state earlier in August.

BJP leader Pratima Bhowmik has, however, rubbished the observations saying that there has been no political violence in Tripura in five months. She has also claimed better performance of MGNREGA during this period.