People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 31

August 02, 200

Tripura Introduced Urban Employment Project

 

Haripada Das

 

TO put an end to the tiresome hunt of the urban poor for a day’s work, the Left Front government of Tripura launched the Tripura Urban Employment Project (TUEP). in An announcement to this effect was made at an overcrowded seminar at Agartala Town Hall on July 24. This project has been floated initially for the BPL cardholders of the Agartala municipal area and 12 other Nagar Panchayat areas, ensuing at least 50 days of work in a year. Subsequently, it will be extended to the urban poor other than BPL families and will provide them with 100 days work a year. The workers involved in this project will get a daily wage of Rs 100 per head. To ensure transparency, the wage to the worker will be paid through bank passbooks. The expenditure in this project will be borne solely by the state’s exchequer.

The project, meant for the welfare of the urban poor, is the first of its kind in the country.

The project’s inaugural seminar was chaired by Sankar Das, chairperson of Agartala Municipal Council (AMC). Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, urban development minister Manik Dey, AMC vice chairperson of AMC Bhubaneswari Debbarma and the high officials of the urban development department were the dignitaries present in the dais.

Amid high applause, chief minister Manik Sarkar ceremoniously inaugurated the project offering job cards first to Manindra Biswas, one of the beneficiaries, followed by 22 others. Till now 47,883 applications for job card in the project have been received and expectedly claims would go up when three more Nagar Panchayats, namely Ambassa, Santirbazar and Bishalgarh, will be notified as proposed.

Addressing the seminar, Manik Sarkar said the poor do not live in the villages only; a good section of them live in towns. The National rural Employment guarantee Act (NREGA) does not cover the urban poor though they deserve to be covered. Hence the Left Front government thought that, while the NREGA is in operation in villages, the urban poor should not be deprived of guaranteed employment. So we planned this project. The TUEP is no mercy from the government but a right of the urban poor. However, their work will be for the development of the state and its towns. Therefore, the beneficiaries too have to be sincere to deliver their best in the field of work, Sarkar suggested.  

Explaining the resource constraint facing the state, Sarkar said the central government’s share is Rs 200, 50 per cent of the Old Age Pension to the selected beneficiaries. The state has to share the rest 200 rupees per person. That apart, we have nine other monthly allowances covering about two lakh individuals like the blind, other disabled persons, widows, deserted women, bidi workers, cobblers, BPL girl children up to the age of 16, etc. The expenditure on these is entirely borne by the state. But the state’s resources are very limited.

Regarding the poor families not registered as the BPL, Sarkar said their should not be any discrimination between the poor and the poor. To consider a family as BPL, the central government adopts a yardstick that is quite different from that of the state. So, while we are claiming 68 per cent of the state’s population as BPL, the centre does not agree to concede thatit is any number beyond 40 per cent. This is the basic difference of outlook between the ruling parties at the centre and the Left, Sarkar said.

The chief guest on the day was the urban development minister, Manik Dey, who informed that the Left Front Government was repeatedly demanding an extended of NREGA to the town areas as there are poor in the towns also. But the UPA government did not heed to our demand. So the Left Front government itself introduced it in the state and was proud to be the pioneer in the whole country.

Agartala municipal chairperson Sankar Das also addressed the seminar.