31 January 2011

NREGA 5th Anniversary Is 'Lajja Diwas' (Day Of Shame): PBKMS

On  February 2, 2011, NREGA will  be five years old, a day when both the Central and State Governments will juggle figures to show excellent implementation. However the truth of the matter is that NREGA has failed to provide the benefits it should have to rural workers. Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity has therefore called for the observation of NREGA Lajja Diwas (NREGA Day of Shame)  on February 1, 2011.

On this occasion, as a symbol of shame, black badges will be presented by union members to all BDOs, Panchayat Pradhans and all important political leaders in the area. 

There will be a number of myths that will be publicized by the Government on February 2, 2011. Here are the facts:

Myth #1:     NREGS Workers are safe

Fact: Our members have faced violent attacks while demanding work or payment of wages or even while working. These attacks have often been in Government premises like Panchayat and BDO offices and often at the instigation of or by elected Panchayat members, in full sight of Government officials.  Some examples are given below:

2007- in Puncha block (Purulia) within the BDO office in full sight of the BDO, SDO and the police, attack by a mob of 200 armed Kisan Sabha supporters;
2009 - at the Panchayat office in Kamtajangidiri in Manbazar block(Purulia), attack  by goons called in by a TMC Pradhan;
2009 - at a work site in Puncha GP in Purulia by a CPM instigated mob;
2009-  in Canning 1 block(South 24 Pgs) at the Panchayat office  where the CPM Pradhan organized goons to attack NREGS workers asking for payment of wages ;
2009- in Pathar Pratima, Achintonagar, South 24 Parganas  an attack because workers forced the TMC Panchayat to the work according to the law;
2010- in Jangipara block, Hooghly where workers were asking for work, while an investigation was taking place, the attack took place against complainants  in front of the SDO at the instigation of the CPM Panchayat Samity  Sabhapati ;
2010- in Midnapore Sadar, Paschim Midnapore because workers are getting organized to demand work by CPM and TMC combined;
2011- in Dakshin Raipur GP, Pathar Pratima (South 24 Pgs) where people gheraoed the GP for not giving work, here the attack was by a board that was controlled by CPM, Congress and BJP combined.

Shame on the police and administration for allowing attacks on workers, while pretending to be concerned about poverty alleviation

Myth #2:     West Bengal Government is creating plenty of work for applicants

Fact: In the past five years, the West Bengal has not even created half the number of days required, sometimes creating as little as 14 or 25 days.  While 2009-10 showed some improvement in NREGA performance, in the current year the outlook is bleak, with the Government having created only 21 person days on the average.

 Employment created (Person days per household)
2010-2011(up to 23rd Jan 2011)
West Bengal- no of days

Myth #3:      The Government of West Bengal’s performance is better than other states

Fact: Even this year, West Bengal’s performance is  likely to be at the bottom of the 20 large states, as it has been for all years , except 2009-10.

Employment created (Person daysper household)
(up to 23rd 
Jan 2011)
National Average
Best performance-
name of state
Best performance- 
no of days
Rank amongst 20
large states
or last
20th or last

West Bengal has also lagged far behind the states that have created the maximum number of days of employment, creating at most 1/3rd  (33-35%) of the number of days of employment created by them, and sometimes as little as 16.3%. The figures are as follows:

Total number of 
days employment created (in lakhs)
(up to 23rd 
Jan 2011)
Best performance- name of state
Madhya Pradesh
Best performance- no of days
West Bengal- no of days
percent of best perfomance

It should be noted that West Bengal has 1 in every 10 cards issued in the country (9.2% of total job cards), but has created only 1 in 20 or 1 in 25 of all person days of employment in the country (3.6 to 6.7%) in the past 5 years.

Shame on the West Bengal Government for lagging behind all the states even after  5 years

Myth #4:      The West Bengal Government provides all its citizens with their entitlements under the Act
Fact: The West Bengal has been able to provide only 0.8% to 2.1% of people demanding work with their full entitlement of 100 days of work  

2008-09 2009-10 2010-2011(up 
to 23rd 
Jan 2011)
Cumulative No of Households
demanding employment
3025854 3489363 4421128
Households completing 100 days of 
work in West Bengal
23050 72123 42142
Percent 0.8 2.1 1.0

Despite its inability to provide work to all applicants and delays in payment of wages, the West Bengal has paid unemployment allowance to barely a few hundred people. Compensation for late payment of wages (provided for under the Act) has not been to even a single person, though delays take place in most cases. Those eligible for unemployment allowance and compensation for late payment would run into lakhs. The Government has no budgetary provision or procedures in place for such these payments. 

Two PBKMS cases - one for payment of unemployment allowance and compensation for late payment of wages and another for payment of arrears of wages of rs.72 crores - are still pending  in the High Court.

Shame on West Bengal for not obeying the law

Myth #5:      The Government is a good employer , paying its workers in time

Fact:  The law requires wage payment to take place within 14 days of the work being completed . It is very difficult for NREGS workers who live a hand to mouth existence to manage without daily payment of wages.  However, the West Bengal Government does not make payments even within the statutory 14 days. In 2010-11, almost half (42.8%) of wages have been paid late, with Rs. 440.74 crores of wages out of a total wage payment of Rs. 1040.01 crores being paid at least 16 days after work was completed. Of this delayed payment, Rs. 78.07 crores was paid more than 3 months after work was completed.

On the other hand, one does not hear about this kind of delay in payment in the case of salaries of other Government employees, despite the fact that they are responsible for delays.

Shame on West Bengal: Coupled with low creation of work, delayed payment of wages has forced workers to migrate to other states to work under precarious and exploitative conditions.

Myth #6:      The State Government is sympathetic to women and gender sensitive

Fact:- The NREG Act makes it mandatory for 1/3rd of the work to be created for women. However West Bengal has created less than this amount of work for women, except during 2009-10, creating as little as 16% work for women. The national average has ranged between 40-50%, while the best states (Kerala) have given even 90% of the work for women.

2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-2011
(up to 23rd Jan 2011)
National 40.44 42.52 47.88 48.65 50
Best performance
- name of state
Kerala Kerala Kerala
Best performance- percent 81.11 82.01 85.01 88.29 90
West Bengal 18.28 16.99 26.53 33.42 31
Rank amongst 20 large states 15th 17th 16th 17th 18th

In West Bengal where many of the women are new entrants into the wage market or unused to doing earth work, despite repeated deputations by our union and other women’s organizations, there has been no separate thinking of works suitable for women. Women also face a lot of resistance from the Panchayats when they apply for work.

Shame on West Bengal Government for its anti-women behavior

Myth #7:      It is the State Government that is to blame, the Central Government is supportive of NREGS workers

Fact: The Central Government has been introducing new systems for the implementation of NREGA. In their interest to monitor and control the programme and to ensure that funds are not siphoned off, they have introduced conditions that have made workers the sufferers i.e.
2006: during the Assembly elections, it was declared that NREGS works came under the Election Code. Work stopped leading to workers being deprived. It was only after many of us complained that a clarification was given and NREGS works were brought out of the ambit of the Election Code.
2008: bank accounts became compulsory, with workers either not being given work or not being paid wages because banks and post offices were very slow in opening accounts. This problem of non-cooperation by banks and post offices continues.
2009: wages were delinked from the minimum wage and the basic has been frozen at Rs.100, which is not even a subsistence wage. Wages were linked to the price index from 2011 onwards
2010: a new Management Information system has been introduced due to which many GPs could not get money for new works, with workers being deprived of work.

Myth #8:      A change in Government will change NREGS implementation

Fact: Our analysis shows that there has been only a marginal improvement in performance in the four districts that have Zilla Parishads led by the Congress or TMC. This along with the violence faced from all parties by workers who are demanding work does not augur well for the future of MGNREGA if there is a regime change

Shame on all major political parties for neglecting rural workers on the one hand and suppressing their movements through attacks on the other

Union members will be taking up the following programme in the areas:

                                                          1st February 2011
South 24 Parganas Sagar, Namkhana, Kulpi, Mandirbazar, Pathar Pratima at block offices; Kanai Haldar,Swapna Tripathi, Asta Maity

Canning 1 (Tambuldaha GP); Kakdwip (Rabindra GP);
North 24 Parganas Bagda, Bongaon, Gaighata at block offices Mijanur Rehaman, Khushilal Sardar 

Hasnabad (Murarisha, Makhalgaccha GPs); Minakha (Champali, Chaital GPs)

Basirhat town
Nadia Nakashipara, Shantipur, Chapra block offices Bela Adak,Molina Pramanick
Paschim Midnapore Datan 1 and 2 , Mohanpur at block offices Sandip Singha 

Purba Midnapore Egra 1 , Canthi 1 at block offices
Purulia Puncha, Manbazar 1, Hura, Santuri, Balarampur, Purulia 1 at block offices Uttam Gayen, Talik Mahato

Barabazar (Berada GP)
Bankura Chhatna, Bankura 1 , Saltora general publicity Suchitra Mondal, Swapan Haldar

                                                                     2nd February 2011
South 24 Parganas Kultali at Block Office
Nadia Krishnagar 2 at block office
North 24 Parganas Bagda, Bongaon and Gaighata at block offices

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