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House rent relief for couples
- Workplace distance criterion for benefit reduced to 150km

Calcutta, July 22: The state government has decided to reduce to 150km from 250km the minimum distance between the workplaces of married couples with government jobs for both to be entitled to house rent.

In the case of remote areas like hills and jungles, where access is difficult, the distance has been reduced to 50km. The minimum distance for such cases were also 250km earlier.

The decision follows a Calcutta High Court order directing the government to revise its earlier parameters on eligibility for house rent for couples.

Shukla Das, a teacher of the state-aided Purandarpur Junior High School in Murshidabad, had filed a petition in the high court in July last year stating that she had been denied house rent allowance as the distance between her workplace and that of her husband was 225km.

Shukla’s husband Indranil, who is a train driver with Eastern Railway, lives in Garia and is entitled to house rent allowance.

“The school education department declined to give her house rent allowance as the distance between her workplace and that of her husband is less than 250km,” Kaushik Chanda, the lawyer representing Shukla, said. The workplace of Indranil, who drives the Rajdhani, is Howrah station.

Chanda said it was “impossible” for Shukla to attend school on a daily basis from Garia. “Her husband too cannot stay with her in Purandarpur because of his job. So both should get house rent allowance,” the lawyer told Justice Biswanath Somadder.

In his order on March 10 this year, Justice Somadder had asked the Left government to revise its rule. “The transport infrastructure of our country is not so developed that a couple can live together and yet go to their workplaces 225km apart,” the judge had said.

After the Left government failed to take action on the court’s order, Shukla had moved a contempt petition in the high court in June this year.

Today, additional government pleader Kamalesh Bhattacharya told the high court that the government had reduced the minimum distance eligibility for house rent allowance to 150km.

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