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Awards for pujas abroad

Calcutta, Sept. 2: The Mamata Banerjee government today widened the reach of its Durga Puja awards, saying it would give prizes to organisers in other countries and states.

“This year, we are going to reach out to new areas. We will give 10 awards, to be known as Biswa Bangla Sharad Sammanona, to the organisers of pujas abroad. Ten more awards will be given to Puja organisers in Indian cities outside Bengal. The tradition of giving awards to Puja organisers in Calcutta and Bengal districts under different categories will continue,” said Atri Bhattacharya, the information and cultural affairs department secretary, at Nabanna today.

The Trinamul government has been giving awards to Puja organisers in Calcutta and the districts since coming to power in 2011. The awards include cash prizes of amounts between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh.

Officials said the new set of awards announced today would include a memento and a cash prize. Bhattacharya, who did not reveal the amount, said: “I can say we won’t spend crores on this. The amount will be disclosed later.”

The information and cultural affairs department secretary said Puja organisers from other states and abroad would have to send video clips through web platforms. The award categories are yet to be decided.

“Fine-tuning of the method will be done soon and it will be uploaded on the department website,” a senior official said.

The judges for the new awards are yet to be appointed. The team of judges that rank pujas in the city and the districts include government officials, celebrities, artists and environment experts.

The official said financial constraints would not allow the government to send the judges abroad or to other states. “We will have to depend on the Internet and choose a process that will be helpful to us and the organisers,” he added.

The awards for pujas in Calcutta and the districts will be declared on Sashthi. The prizes for the pujas abroad and in other states will, however, be declared later.

A section of government officials, however, questioned the need to introduce more Puja awards at a time of financial duress.

“At least a few lakhs will be spent. Although it is not a big amount, the question is whether the government wants to cut down on its non-plan expenditure,” an official said.