As many as 1 crore turn up at Duare Sarkar camps
The second edition of the state government’s Duare Sarkar outreach touched the 1-crore footfall mark on Tuesday morning, the eighth day of the programme, people’s interest making it clear that direct cash transfer schemes such as Lakshmir Bhandar are a necessity amid the pandemic.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted on Wednesday: “It gives me immense joy to announce that as of 24th August '21, more than 1 Crore people across the state have visited the #DuareSarkar camps. This year we have included more schemes & initiatives like #LakshmiBhandar, #StudentCreditCard, #KrishakBandhu (New) among others.”
“I assure all that we will continue working tirelessly to ensure doorstep delivery of government services and benefits. The Government of West Bengal remains committed to the welfare of the people of Bengal,” she added.
Bengal chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi also congratulated the district magistrates on Tuesday for helping the state achieve this milestone.
“We have hit one crore registrations in Duare Sarkar around 10.52am today (Tuesday)... In the first edition it had taken 18 days to achieve this number. This time it is nine days. But if we count that one day was totally off this time (on Muharram), then we have done this in 8 days,”he wrote on WhatsApp to the DMs.
Sources said the huge registration in the Duare Sarkar camps was primarily because the government launched the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme to offer women aged between 25 and 60 years a minimum of Rs 500 a month. While women from the general caste will get Rs 500 a month, those from SC/ST sections Rs 1,000.
Beneficiaries during the first Duare Sarkar initiative were a mixed bag. This time, women turned up in droves and estimates suggest that 65 to 70 per cent of the visitors at the camps across the state registered for the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme.
Sources in the government said record footfall in the camps clearly captures the distress in rural economy and the need for cash to survive amid the pandemic.
Economists like Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee have repeatedly said that providing cash to common people during the pandemic should be the only way to help the flailing economy of the country.
It is clearly visible from the government data that the scheme is most sought after in the districts with high migrant labour concentration, most of whom had to come back after losing their jobs, and downtrodden people.
Districts such as South 24-Parganas, which always sent a large number of workers to other states as migrant labour, recorded a registration of 12,76,500 people out of its total population of 81,61,961.
“If 15.64 per cent population of a district register themselves primarily for cash benefit schemes within just eight days, it has to be accepted that the scheme is a hit. The central government should take a cue from this (the Bengal government’s initiative) and focus on cash transfer schemes,” said an official.
The picture is no different for districts such as Cooch Behar and Murshidabad, which also have high migrant labour population, where more than 15 per cent of their total population have registered for the scheme.