People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 24 

June 14, 2009

 

Tripura To Start Employment

Scheme For Urban Poor

Rahul Sinha

 

SETTING another precedence of its pro-poor stance, the Left Front government of Tripura has decided to start an employment guarantee programme for the urban poor of the state. Unique in its kind all over the country, the programme, named as Tripura Urban Employment Programme (TUEP), will be effective from July 2009. Under the programme, people living below poverty line in the urban areas of the state will be provided 50 days of work per year. In the first phase the programme will be implemented in the Agartala Municipal Council areas and the 15 Nagar Panchayats of the state.


The state’s urban development minister, Manik Dey, said the Left parties, particularly the CPI(M), has all along been demanding that the centre should introduce employment guarantee schemes for the urban poor, following the model of NREGA. The reason is that the number of poor people is on the rise in the urban areas too. But even after repeated demands, the centre has chosen to turn a deaf ear to this urgent and legitimate demand. In Tripura, the CITU and the Tripura Khet Majoor Union, affiliated to the All India Agricultural Workers Union, have also been organising movements on this demand. It was the duty of the centre to appreciate the genuineness of the demand and start an employment guarantee scheme for the urban poor at the earliest all over the country. This was even more important as the number of available work days in rural areas has shrunk because of mechanisation of agriculture and a number of people have migrated from villages to cities and towns in search of jobs. In most of the cities of the country they are living in slums with very low incomes. Dey said in spite of its limited resources the state government had in the budget promised to start such a scheme in the urban areas of the state from  this financial year.


Thus, fulfilling its promise in the current state budget, the state government has decided to give the much awaited urban employment project a green signal. Because of paucity of funds, the number of mandays will 50 as against 100 in the NREGA; nonetheless the state has become the trendsetter in introducing such a programme for the urban poor.


Just like in the NREGA, people applying for a job under the TUEP will also be provided with job cards. In Tripura, more than 66 per cent of the population belong to the BPL category. But only 40 per cent of them could get a BPL card because of the centre’s dubious yardsticks of evaluating poverty. The rest, in spite of being enlisted as BPL, did not get a BPL card.

 

Under the TUEP, from each enlisted BPL family, one person above the age of 18 years will be entitled to apply for and get a job, irrespective of whether the concerned family possesses a BPL card or not.

 

The whole project will be financed by the state government and initially an amount of  15 crore rupees has been allocated for the purpose.