While West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress boss Mamata Banerjee is seeking a bail out package for her debt-ridden state from the Centre, her government has not been able to spend almost Rs 900 crore meant for employment generation programmes.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, also a key political interlocutor between the Congress and Trinamool, shot a letter to Banerjee last month citing that total available fund with the state including its own share is Rs 1,823 crore.
"Despite availability of sufficient funds, the state has not been able to generate employment as projected in labour budget up to September/ October 2011. As on date, around Rs 900 crore continues to lie unutilised with various project implementation authorities in the state," Ramesh wrote.
"The state government needs to make efforts for optimum utilisation of this unspent amount against meeting the demand for works under MGNREGA," he added.
The minister sent the letter amid discussions within the government regarding the Rs 8,750-crore bail-out package for the Jangalmahal and other areas of the state. The financial package was cleared by the cabinet committee on economic affairs on Wednesday.
Banerjee had sought a bail-out package of almost Rs 19,000 crore from the centre arguing that her government has inherited huge debt from the previous Left Front that ruled the state for 34 years. Banerjee had told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that out of every rupee, 94 paisa goes out for statutory payments like salaries and pension and debt repayment.
Ramesh sought Banerjee's personal intervention while reminding her to comply with all conditions for release of the next installment of money for the MGNREGA.
In his letter, Ramesh also pointed out that participation of women in the rural job scheme was not satisfactory and below the national average during 2010-2011.