Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren Saturday reiterated that the Central government should consider the proposal sent for the demand of Sarna Adivasi Dharma Code after it was passed by the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly. He also added that the old-age pension should be universal and that the minimum labour wage of MGNREGA should be increased.
Speaking at the NITI Aayog governing council meeting of 2021, Soren said, “We have sent a proposal related to the demand for Sarna Adivasi Dharma Code, passed from Jharkhand Legislative Assembly. We believe that the Government of India will consider it sympathetically. Separate columns should be arranged for them in the census as well.”
The tribal population have demanded the Sarna code ever since the state was created in 2000. In fact last year in November, the Jharkhand government had convened a special Assembly session and passed a resolution to send the Centre a letter recommending it to recognise the Sarna religion and include a separate code for it in the next census. For the last many years several protests and meetings have been held by various tribal groups in Jharkhand and elsewhere pushing the same demand.
Raising the issue of universalising the pension scheme for senior citizens, the Chief Minister said that they complain about not getting pension benefits and after inquiry it emerged that the set target had already been achieved. “Can we not benefit this population by giving them a universal pension? The pension amount has not been increased by the central government since 2007, although the state government has increased it from the state fund. The central government should consider universalising the pension,” he added.
The Chief Minister also pressed for increasing the MNREGA wage rate, arguing that Jharkhand is a labour-intensive state. “Jharkhand is a labor-intensive state. There is a need to consider creating employment opportunities for them. The central government has marked a wage rate of Rs 202, which is lower than other states of the country. At present, the workers of Jharkhand are not able to reap optimum benefits from the MGNREGA,” he said during the meeting.
On the issue of fund cuts by the Centre during the pandemic, the CM said that the Central government share given to the Jharkhand is Rs 1,750 crores in several schemes, however, it was reduced to Rs 1,200 crores. “Also, during the Corona transition period, DVC deducted Rs 2131 crore from the state government account. This was done for the first time with any state in the country. Being a labor-intensive state, this fund was necessary for Jharkhand to control the spread of the pandemic,” he said.
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