New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the "devastating plight" of MGNREGS workers in West Bengal and urged his government to facilitate the release of central funds to the state for clearing their pending wages.
In his letter to Modi, Gandhi said that during his recent visit to West Bengal as part of the Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra, a delegation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers from the Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity apprised him of the issues faced by them.
Flagging the "devastating plight" of MGNREGS workers in West Bengal and their relentless fight for justice, he said, "Lakhs of our brothers and sisters have been denied work and wages under MGNREGS due to the stoppage of central funds to West Bengal since March, 2022."
"I was informed that many workers have not been paid for work completed in 2021 due to shortfall in funds," the former Congress chief said in his letter to Modi dated February 10.
Moreover, there has been a "drastic decline in the number of households availing work from 75 lakh in 2021-22 to under 8,000 households in 2023-24", Gandhi said.
"This massive scale down has been brutal on the most vulnerable -- women, and SC and ST households. The lack of MGNREGS work and pending wages have forced many to make hard choices -- particularly distress migration," he said.
Eighteen years ago, the UPA government chose a radical new path of social and economic justice by guaranteeing the right to work for rural communities, Gandhi said.
For many, MGNREGS is the only safety net in times of crisis, and an assured livelihood source, Gandhi pointed out.
"In this context, I request the Union government to facilitate the release of funds to clear pending wages, and ensure that the demand for work is met. I believe that we have a duty to rise above our political differences to uphold social, political and economic justice," the Congress leader said.