| Mamata interacts with students in Barasat on Monday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Barasat, April 9: Mamata Banerjee today gave away cheques worth Rs 19 crore as scholarships, stipends and loans to the minority community, the amount more than double of what was disbursed last year.
The cheques were distributed among 75,000 beneficiaries at an event in Barasat, hours before the chief minister left for Delhi to seek more funds for Bengal.
This year, there has been a 73 per cent hike in the budget provisions for the minority welfare department. Students from the community will study, go for training and get loans to start business. More schools, colleges and madarsas will be set up. Land has been allocated for the Aliah University in Rajarhat. The process of floating tenders has started, Mamata told the 4,000-odd crowd at Barasats Vidyasagar stadium.
The West Bengal Minorities Development and Finance Corporation provided the cheques.
According to officials of the corporation, Rs 8.51 crore was disbursed last year among 53,408 beneficiaries in North 24-Parganas.
Mamata has kept the minorities affairs and madarsas education portfolio with her and has been working out financial schemes for retaining her hold on the minority votes, ahead of next years panchayat polls. Last week, she had announced a monthly honorarium of Rs 2,500 for the imams in Bengal.
The chief minister today also laid the foundation stone for a district office for the minorities affairs department in Barasat.
Mamata criticised the Centres decision to seek online applications for Haj pilgrims, saying more time should be given to people to understand the process.
Mamata, however, did not forget to remind the audience that Bengals empty coffers had not been a constraint to her schemes.
Despite the financial constraints, we have not stopped salaries or announced any embargo on welfare schemes. The Left Front government had stopped scholarships, stipends, and supply of rice to BPL cardholders, she said.
Mamata also announced that two more technical institutes would come up at Haroa and Thakurnagar. The BPL families in Aila-affected areas of North 24-Parganas will start getting rice at Rs 2 a kg from April 14 (the Bengali new year day), she said.
She also asked party MPs Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and Haji Nurul Islam to give Rs 1 crore each from their MP local area development fund for repairing two stadiums at Barasat and Basirhat.