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Club cash advice to govt

Calcutta, June 30: A standing committee of the Bengal Assembly has advised the Mamata Banerjee government to prepare guidelines for handing out doles to clubs.

A report by the standing committee on Information and Cultural Affairs and Sports and Youth Welfare departments — chaired by CPM MLA S. M. Sadi — was placed in the Assembly a few days ago.

The committee recommended: “The government can issue directives on how the funds given to the clubs are to be utilised. The government can also stop giving further financial assistance in case of any violations.”

In the nine-member committee, five are from Trinamul, two from the CPM, including the chairman, and one from the Congress.

Handing out doles to clubs across the state has been a pet scheme of the chief minister. Trinamul insiders admitted the scheme had paid rich dividends to the ruling party in successive elections, including the Lok Sabha polls in which Trinamul won 34 seats.

Mamata launched the scheme on January 30, 2012, when 781 clubs were paid Rs 2 lakh each. In 2013, another 1,614 clubs were added to the list, which cost the cash-strapped Bengal government an additional Rs 40 crore. Last year, 3,700 clubs were given doles.

According to the scheme, after the first- year payment of Rs 2 lakh, the clubs are given Rs 1 lakh each for the next five years.

“Since the government has decided to extend the financial assistance to the clubs, the standing committee members felt a system has to be in place. As public money is involved, a mechanism for checks and balances has to be in place,” said chairman Sadi.

Sports minister Madan Mitra said the government would continue with the scheme. “Inspections are being carried out to see how the clubs are utilising the funds. So far, we have not received any complaints. We will continue with the scheme,” said Mitra.