The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No takers for poverty-line cards: Mayor

There are no real takers for the below-poverty line (BPL) card in Calcutta. According to mayor Subrata Mukherjee, the BPL line has been drawn at Rs 312, but there is not a single family in the city, on paper, with a monthly income below that mark.

Each councillor in the 141 wards of the city has been given 500 BPL forms. According to civic estimates, the monthly family earnings have been pegged at Rs 360 for beggars, Rs 450 for ragpickers, Rs 1,005 for domestics, Rs 3,000 for rickshaw-pullers and Rs 4,500 for porters.

But, driven by “political compulsions”, the councillors will, nonetheless, distribute the BPL forms and some will even put in their recommendations.

The mayor has blamed “myopic policy-makers” for the card conundrum. “A large number of elderly people and poor families in the city do require some financial help, but they cannot benefit from the BPL cards. The benchmark of monthly income should have been different for villages, towns and cities,” he stressed.

Terming it another scheme of the Central government that will result in hundreds of crores going down the drain, the mayor took a swipe at the local area development scheme for MPs, labelling it “an undemocratic way of bribing voters with tax-payers’ money”.

Under the scheme, each MP gets Rs 10 crore during his five-year term to nurse his constituency as he wants, within certain guidelines. This is undemocratic because in the run-up to the next elections, the MP will be Rs 10 crore ahead of his contenders, observed Mukherjee.

“It would be better if the Centre made it mandatory for a member of Parliament to allot 75 per cent of his funds to develop civic infrastructure and 25 per cent for its maintenance,” pointed out the mayor.

nCancer control funds: The Centre has sanctioned Rs 1.5 crore for the oncology wing of Medical College and Hospital, under its National Cancer Control Programme. Head of Medical College’s radiotherapy department Subir Ganguly said on Wednesday that Rs 1.3 crore would be spent on installing a high-dose rate brachy therapy machine for radiotherapy —- the first of its kind in a state-run hospital. The machine will help administer radiotherapy at the exact spot where cancer has struck. It will be very useful for cancers of the tongue, skin, oesophagus, larynx and breast.

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