Centre, Bengal officials to again meet today to discuss pending funds | India News – DollarJob

Centre, Bengal officials to again meet today to discuss pending funds | India News

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Days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee announced that her government will pay the pending wages of 21 lakh MGNREGS workers by February 21, Central and state officials are set to hold talks on Wednesday to discuss pending dues and clearances under various central schemes, The Indian Express has learnt.

The Central team will be led by Rural Development Secretary Shailesh Kumar Singh and the West Bengal government will be represented by the state’s Finance Secretary Manoj Pant, it is learnt.

Wednesday’s discussion will be the second such meeting in less than a month on an issue that has riled the Mamata government, which has accused the BJP-led Centre of deliberately withholding funds to the state.

According to sources in the West Bengal government, about Rs 18,000 crore is due for the state under three rural development schemes—Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) (PMAY-G), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). In addition to this, the sources said, Rs 7,000 crore is pending under schemes that come under the Union Food Ministry.

Alleging “irregularities”, the Centre has said it will release further payments to West Bengal only if the funds sanctioned earlier were fully utilised and a report was sent to it.

Festive offer

The last meeting between the Central officials and the West Bengal officials was held on January 23. Besides senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, over half-a-dozen Ministries, including Rural Development, Health and Family Welfare, Road Transport and Highways, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Railways, and Environment Forest and Climate Change, sent their representatives, it is learnt.

The West Bengal government was represented by several officials of various departments such as Health, Forest, Panchayat and Rural Development, and Food.

The January 23 meeting came weeks after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 20. After the meeting, Banerjee said Modi assured her of holding a joint meeting of government officials to look into the state’s demands on the release of Central funds.

Earlier this month, Banerjee had announced that her government would be transferring wages to the bank accounts of 21 lakh MGNREGS workers in the state by February 21.

“I have to run my family. Despite our limitations, we are running Lakshmir Bhandar, Kanyasree and other social welfare schemes. We are running 67 social welfare schemes which no other government offers. I will pay the pending wages of 21 lakh MGNREGA workers by February 21. I will give the pending dues under the Awas Yojna as well. Please believe me. When I promised, I will fulfil that,” Banerjee said, speaking during a dharna earlier this month.

The Centre had invoked Section 27 of the MGNREG Act, 2005, and stopped the release of funds to the state in March 2022. The Centre also stopped release of funds to West Bengal under the PMAY-G scheme.

Section 27 of MGNREG Act reads: “The Central government may, on receipt of any complaint regarding the issue or improper utilisation of funds granted under this Act, in respect of any scheme, if prima facie satisfied that there is a case, cause an investigation into the complaint made by any agency… and if necessary, order stoppage of release of funds to the scheme…”

On October 20 last year, Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh said the Centre will release funds to West Bengal under MGNREGS and PMAY-G on the day it is “satisfied” about “transparency” in the state.



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