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Implementation of food-for-work programme not satisfactory: Left

Special Correspondent

Foodgrains are being diverted and not going to the people who actually work, says V.P. Singh


  • Pass National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill in Monsoon session
  • ``Bill should be universal with reservation for women''
  • K. R. Narayanan expresses solidarity



    The former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, the former President, K.R. Narayanan, and CPI leader D. Raja at a function to mark the arrival of the Rozgar Adhikar Yatra in New Delhi on Saturday. — Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

    NEW DELHI: The Left parties on Saturday said the implementation of the National Food-for-Work Programme was far from satisfactory. They demanded that the UPA Government pass the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill in the coming session of Parliament.

    At "Jan Manch," a function to mark the arrival of the Rozgar Adhikar Yatra here, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said the final report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Bill had some good recommendations, which was supported by all political parties. The Government must incorporate them in the new draft.

    Rejecting the "diluted" version of the draft Bill tabled in Parliament, Mr. Karat called upon the Government to pass the new Bill in the monsoon session to ensure its implementation at the earliest. He said his party sources had drawn attention towards rampant corruption and major lacunae in the National Food for Work Programme.

    "Foodgrains being diverted"

    The former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, said the opposition to the Bill was mainly because it concerned the poor. "The Food-For-Work is a good programme, if implemented properly. Unfortunately reports suggests that the foodgrains are being diverted and not going to the people who actually work. Here, the Right to Information Act can be implemented to set things right," he said. He asked the Government not to take up this programme on an experimental basis but implement it in all districts.

    As the "guarantee" to provide work was with the Government, it could misuse the provision as and when required, he warned. The Bill should be universal, with reservation for women, and not confined only to the poor or those below poverty line.

    The former President, K.R. Narayanan, expressed solidarity with those taking up the cause of right to work.

    Major challenges

    Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said that unemployment and poverty were two major challenges that needed to be addressed with a sense of urgency.

    He hoped the Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, with the amendments suggested by the Left parties, would be passed in the coming session of Parliament.

    The weaknesses in the Food-for-Work programme could be dealt with effective people's intervention, he added.

    Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the minimum wages would be at par with those prevailing in the States.

    Economist Jean Dreze, who travelled with the `yatra' for 45 days, said that bad implementation of Food-for-Work meant bad news for the Employment Guarantee Bill.

    Barring Rajasthan, the programme had virtually failed to achieve its target. "It is being run by contractors instead of the panchayats. There are no prescribed minimum wages and the muster-rolls are tampered with,'' he said.

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