State govt employees protest outside West Bengal assembly to demand hike in dearness allowance

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DA hike in West Bengal: State government employees protested outside the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in Kolkata on Wednesday, demanding a hike in DA at par with central government employees. The employees have been protesting for months that the Mamata Banerjee government has not given them revised dearness allowance since the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission.

As per news reports, the Center has approved DA of 34 per cent of the basic pay to its employees after the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission were brought out in January 2016. In West Bengal, the government has so far given 3 percent DA, which is very less. compared to national standards.

According to regional news reports, since Banerjee came to power, the Trinamool government has been refraining from paying DA to its state government employees as well as school teachers in the state. As per state estimates, the total outstanding payment is around Rs 20,000 crore, a huge amount for the ruling government in the cash-strapped state.

Earlier in May this year, the Calcutta High Court had directed the state government to clear the dues within the next three months after the employees union filed a petition against the government. When the deadline expired, the employee unions filed a contempt of court petition in the High Court before a division bench of Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samant.

Meanwhile, the state government had filed a review petition in the High Court requesting the bench to reconsider its earlier decision ordering payment of DA and pending dues to its employees within three months. The HC turned down the request.

On September 22, the bench had directed the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary of West Bengal to file affidavits by November 4 as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them. The state government has now approached the Supreme Court for relief in the matter.

The move has drawn criticism from the Mamata Banerjee government as several opposition leaders have slammed the state cabinet for ignoring the basic demands of the workers. Several leaders have also questioned Banerjee’s decision to give huge sums of money to Durga Puja pandals instead of looking into the welfare of the workers.

Assuring necessary steps in this regard, Parliamentary Affairs and Agriculture Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay told the state assembly earlier this month that the government was working for backward communities first, and hence DA payments were getting delayed.

“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee never said that DA arrears will not be paid to state government employees. It will be paid at the right time. The chief minister is trying her best to improve the living conditions of the backward people of the state. ” For which he has started various projects. This is the reason why the process of DA dues payment is getting delayed,” Chattopadhyay said on the floor of the assembly.

He even said that the state government employees can afford two meals a day for their families despite not getting the arrears of dearness allowance and hence can wait.

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