BRS calls state-wide protest over MGNREGA policy

Hyderabad: The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) will stage protests across the state on Friday against the decision of the BJP-led government at the Centre to recover Rs 151 crore from the Telangana state government for constructing platforms to dry paddy in villages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA)

BRS working president K.T. Rama Rao called on farmers to protest in large numbers at the district headquarters towns across the state on Thursday, calling the Centre’s notice to the state government asking for the return of Rs 152 crore “vengeful.” He claimed that the BJP government was carrying out a “malicious and misinformation” campaign alleging that the state government was diverting funds released for MGNREGA works.

He questioned the Central government’s rationale in claiming that the MGNREGA funds were diverted for the construction of paddy-drying platforms when they were intended for a farmer-assistance scheme, and asked why the BJP had allowed states with coastlines to build fish-drying platforms but opposed the construction of paddy-drying platforms.

The minister also reminded the Centre that the Telangana government and the BRS had written to it to allow agricultural work under the MGNREGA. “Our CM wrote to the Centre requesting that agriculture works be permitted under MGNREGA. The Centre did not heed Telangana’s request despite bringing the issue to its notice. The construction of agri-produce drying platforms under MNREGA benefits the farmers,” he said. The Centre was hell-bent on maligning and conniving against the Telangana government, oblivious of the benefits such projects bring to farmers, he noted.

Rama Rao stated that several requests submitted to the Centre by the Telangana government and the BRS to integrate agriculture and allied sectors with the MGNREGA were disregarded. He stated that the Centre reduced funds allotted to the scheme and enforced different conditions at a time when employment prospects had decreased following Covid-19 pandemic and the rural economy was under distress.

He stated that the Modi government at the Centre had blocked the Telangana government from constructing 79,000 more drying platforms with Rs 750 crore, while also demanding that agriculture and allied works be included in the Employment Guarantee Scheme, claiming that such a move would benefit farmers because rising fertiliser and fuel prices had raised the cost of farming investment.

The Centre, in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, had said that constructing the platforms to dry paddy was not permissible under Schedule I of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

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