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CPM fears job scheme cutback

Agartala, Aug. 3: The CPM is worried over the possible move by the Centre to curtail the scope of the rural job scheme in Tripura.

Though there has been no clear indication, a letter from the joint secretary of the Union rural development ministry to the state’s rural development department hints that the coverage of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act may be curtailed.

The letter from the joint secretary, K.K. Gupta, to N.K. Sinha, secretary of the Tripura rural development department, directs him to identify 15 most backward and poverty-stricken blocks in the state, hinting at reducing the scope of the scheme. Tripura currently has altogether 58 blocks, including 23 in backward hilly areas.

Though a reply to the letter and the list of the 15 most backward blocks has not been furnished, the CPM state secretary and central committee member Bijan Dhar has protested the proposal.

“We are not against higher funds being allocated for the most backward blocks but curtailment of the scheme is not acceptable,” Dhar told reporters here today.

Terming the issue as “snatching an established legal right”, Dhar said the entire rural and hilly areas are covered by the job scheme, which has helped reduce poverty by generating employment. “Curtailing the scheme’s scope will deal a body blow to the fight against poverty and unemployment. Tripura has consistently performed well in implementing the MGNREGA. If any attempt is made to curtail the scheme, we will protest,” he said.

Referring to the budget speech by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, he said the minister’s contention that the MGNREGA would be utilised to create assets was not understandable.

“There is a clear implementation protocol for the scheme. The Centre can reshape and improve the scheme but its curtailment will be disastrous and an anti-people measure,” he said.