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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Mamata Banerjee government in hurry to clear wage dues of MGNREGS workers in Sandeshkhali

This comes as a part of a larger plan to bring peace to the strife-torn area and undo the damage caused by local Trinamul strongman Sheikh Shahjahan, now absconding, and his associates

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 27.02.24, 10:22 AM
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee File picture

The Bengal government is putting in every effort to fast-track the clearance of the dues of 5,800 MGNREGS job card holders of Sandeshkhali-II block, the area that has seen massive protests against local Trinamul workers for alleged landgrab and assault, among others, from its coffers.

This comes as a part of a larger plan to bring peace to the strife-torn area and undo the damage caused by local Trinamul strongman Sheikh Shahjahan, now absconding, and his associates.

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Sources in the state administration said that the district authorities would transfer a sum of Rs 2 crore to the verified bank accounts of 5,800 MGNREGS workers in the area by Monday evening.

The state's deadline across Bengal is Friday, March 1. However, addressing the concerns of Sandeshkhali is a priority now.

“These workers (from Sandeshkhali) have not been getting their wages since December 2021 (when the Centre froze MGNREGS funds to Bengal citing misappropriation). As the state government has decided to clear the dues of all the MGNREGS workers from its funds (across Bengal), the funds will be transferred to the accounts of the workers of Sandeshkhali-II block,” said a senior government official.

According to sources in the North 24-Parganas district administration, a total of Rs 126 crore was allotted to the district to clear the dues of all the job card holders of the 100 days’ job scheme. The funds will have to be transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries by March 1.

“But the district authorities started transferring the amounts to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries in Sandeshkhali–II block from Sunday evening. It is expected that the process will be completed by Monday evening. This shows that the administration is laying special emphasis on clearing the dues of the job card holders in the area,” said a senior official.

Sources said they hoped that clearing the dues under the 100 days’ job scheme would help the administration earn the confidence of the villagers, who have been up in arms against the police administration and local Trinamul leaders over the past few days.

Sources said that the civil administration received a good response from the villagers when a survey was carried out to check the name and the bank account details of the job card holders, who had worked under the scheme but did not get wages in the area that is boiling these days.

“The villagers have cooperated with us. We had details of 5,720 workers in the area but during the survey the villagers sent names of another 80 workers who did not get their dues. Funds are being transferred to all the 5,800 workers,” said another official.

Sources said that each of the villagers would get around Rs 3,450 on average as due wages.

They said that this amount was not meagre for a remote and riverine place like Sandeshkhali, on the tip of North 24-Parganas, where employment opportunities do not exist beyond agriculture and pisciculture.

Transferring the due wages to 100 days' job card holders apart, the authorities are trying to connect with the angry villagers by trying to resolve other issues raised by them.

Many of the villagers lodged complaints with the block development officer to allege that they did not get the state government's Swasthya Sathi or health insurance cards.

“A special camp was organised on Monday to issue Swasthya Cards to the villagers. A total of 120 such cards were handed over to the villagers on the spot on Monday. It is expected that another 1,200 Swasthya Sathi cards will be distributed to people here in the next six days,” said a senior official.

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