The Mamata Banerjee government and the Trinamul Congress have decided to walk the extra mile to help families of those who died or suffered injuries in Friday’s rail accident in Odisha’s Balasore.
The move is politically significant as most of the victims are migrant workers and belong to rural Bengal where panchayat polls will be held any time this year.
“The government and the ruling party have decided to stand by all the victims’ families. But it is significant that a special focus has been given to reach out to migrant workers affected in the accident,” said a source in Nabanna.
On Tuesday, the Bengal government decided to extend additional benefits to the migrant workers, who were either injured in the accident or were travelling by trains but remained unhurt.
According to a labour department order issued on Tuesday, all injured migrant labourers will get an additional amount of Rs 10,000 each, in addition to the compensation announced for all injured passengers from Bengal.
An official explained that in case a migrant worker was seriously injured, he would get a compensation of Rs 1.10 lakh, while all others with serious injuries would get a sum of Rs 1 lakh. In case of other injuries, a migrant labourer will get a sum of Rs 60,000, while all other injured will get a sum of Rs 50,000 each.
The state has also decided to give one-time assistance of Rs 10,000 to the migrant workers if they were travelling on trains. Moreover, they will get financial support of Rs 2,000 each for the subsequent three months.
The ruling party has also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for those who died in the accident.
Trinamul leaders are promising to take responsibility for the education of the victims' children.
Sources in Trinamul said it did not mean the government or the party was focusing on only migrant workers.
“The government as well as the ruling party stand by all those affected by the accident. As the majority of the affected are poor, assistance is required by the affected families. The chief minister is leaving no stone unturned,” said a Trinamul leader.
Sources in the administration said the special focus on the migrant workers was given as the ruling establishment was facing uncomfortable questions about why so many people were migrating in search of jobs even if the state had laid stress on the creation of jobs.
“It has become awkward for the ruling party as the majority of the migrant workers belong to the minority community and hail from backward districts like Murshidabad, Malda, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur. This is not a good signal ahead of the rural and 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” said a source.