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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Portal for state rural job scheme: Bengal minister launches Karmashree's website

A source said chief minister Mamata Banerjee had given special focus to compensating for the loss of poor rural workers through her brainchild scheme, Karmashree, before the 2026 Assembly elections

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 15.06.24, 06:49 AM
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee File image

The state panchayats and rural development department on Friday launched an online portal for Karmashree —a flagship scheme parallel to MGNREGA — to provide at least 50 days of work to over two crore job card holders as the Narendra Modi government froze funds for the rural employment guarantee scheme in December 2021.

A source said chief minister Mamata Banerjee had given special focus to compensating for the loss of poor rural workers through her brainchild scheme, Karmashree, before the 2026 Assembly elections.

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On Friday, the state panchayat and rural development minister, Pradip Mazumdar, launched the online portal and a WhatsApp chatbot service, which allows anyone to get in touch with developmental works under the department.

In a conference at Dhano Dhanye auditorium here, block informatics officers (BIOs) and district informatics analysts (DIAs) from across Bengal were trained to upload comprehensive job creation data through different state government departments.

“Before the Lok Sabha polls, the state government provided due wages to 59 lakh MGNREGA job card holders who did not get their wages as the central government withheld the funds. Now the state government will ensure a 50-day work guarantee under the state-funded scheme,” said a senior state government official.

After the Centre froze funds to Bengal under schemes like MGNREGA in December 2021, citing irregularities, the TMC, led by its national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, launched a massive movement against the Narendra Modi government in Calcutta and Delhi.

In Delhi, several TMC MPs were detained when they went to meet the Minister of State for Rural Development, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, in her office at Krishi Bhavan in October 2023. In February this year, the Bengal government released 2,800 crore from its coffers to pay 59 lakh MGNREGA job card holders.

A senior TMC leader said providing due wages to the MGNREGA workers and the campaign on the Centre’s deprivation helped the party reap political dividends in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls by bagging 29 out of 42 seats in the state.

The state government has set a goal to run its own funded parallel scheme to offer jobs to those job card holders through 26 sectors, including agriculture, horticulture, rural connectivity, and the health department.

In the 2023-24 fiscal, the state government has already provided jobs involving 55 departments to 64.31 lakh job card holders.

“Now every department will have to send the data to the central portal, and the Panchayat and Rural Development Department will anchor the scheme as it has experience in managing MGNREGA. That is why senior officials of the department took part in the discussions at the conference,” said an official.

A source said the online Karmashree portal will also help the government maintain transparency in spending funds under the scheme, as the government does not want any malpractice.

“The state government does not want any allegations of malpractice with the scheme... the portal will help monitor daily activities of the schemes, including how many workers were given work in which areas,” said an official.

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