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Newsmen Bureau

Kolkata, 09 September: CENTRE’s decision on Wednesday to hike the Dearness Allowance (DA) to its employees by 6 per cent has spread gloom amongst the employees of the West Bengal government who are on one of the lowest berths of DA in the country.

With the 6 per cent increase, the Central government employees will now earn 119 per cent DA on their basic pay; the government employees in Bengal will be drawing 65 per cent. The gap is 54 per cent.

The Centre reviews the DA twice every year corresponding to the consumer price index and the revised amount is made effective every 6 months i.e. on 1 January and 1 July.

When the Trinamool Congress came to power in Bengal in 2011, it had promised to release the DA periodically according to the recommendations of the State Pay Commission. Back then, the Bengal employees were drawing DA 16 per cent lower than that of the Central government staff.

But over the past four years, the Trinamool government has revised the DA of its employees scantily, widening the gap vis-a-vis Central government staff to 54 per cent now.

States like Punjab pay the highest amount of DA to their employees and as many as 15 states in the country are paying their employees a DA of 113 per cent, which was at par with that of the Centre till the hike announced today.

Expressing dismay over the attitude of the Trinamool government, the State Government Employees’ Council secretary Sanket Chakraborty said: “Our government has surplus budget for festivals, fairs, awards and advertisements etc. Yet when it comes to providing the employees their rightful DA, it cries of not having funds.”

On conditions of anonymity, a senior Bengal government officer who was earlier posted at Nabanna said: “Whenever we raise our voice demanding a hike in DA, we are subjected to arbitrary transfers, non-release of increments and are even denied due promotions. Don’t really sure how long we shall have to suffer this?”

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to be present at a meeting of the Trinamool’s state government employees union at Netaji Indoor Stadium on 11 September. Mr Chakraborty of the Employees’ Council said that they would raise the demand for DA hike then.

The Left-leaning Coordination Committee of State Government Employee Unions has threatened a unified stir on the issue over the next few days.