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Rs 8,700cr benefits at door

Mamata reaches out to people still left out of welfare schemes through Duare Sarkar, a two-month long programme
Civic officials man a counter at the Duare Sarkar programme organised in CJ Block on Saturday.
Civic officials man a counter at the Duare Sarkar programme organised in CJ Block on Saturday.
The Telegraph File Picture

Pranesh Sarkar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 22.12.20, 02:15 AM

The Mamata Banerjee government has released Rs 8,700 crore to extend benefits to common people under various schemes after 1.12 crore people visited 20,000-odd camps set up under the Duare Sarkar — a two-month long programme to reach out to people still left out of welfare schemes.

“A total of 1.12 crore people visited the camps set up under the Duare Sarkar programme across the state till December 20. Of them, 71 lakh people have applied for benefits under various schemes. We have released Rs 8,700 crore to various departments to deliver services to those who applied for various schemes,” the chief minister said at Nabanna on Monday after holding a review meeting with top government officials.

Sources said the release of a handsome amount to deliver services to those who had applied for the schemes at the camps gave a hint that the state government was serious about meeting the expectations of common people.

“It is tough for a cash-strapped government to spend a huge amount on welfare schemes as its own revenue generation has been hit badly because of Covid-19 and assistance from the Centre has also been irregular and a large amount is still due. The chief minister wants to ensure that people are not deprived of their rights during the tough time,” said a senior official.Mamata said the state had already spent more than Rs 9,000 crore under the welfare scheme this year compared to the previous year and the additional release of Rs 8,700 crore would ensure more benefits to more people this year.

“Last year (2019-20), we had spent Rs 15,000 crore for schemes to give benefits directly to people. This year, we have already spent Rs 24,255 crore under welfare schemes,” said the chief minister.

Sources at Nabanna said the additional amount spent under welfare schemes this year was to give free food grains to people during the pandemic and bring more people under social pension schemes during the pandemic.

Moreover, financial assistance was provided to migrant workers who had got stranded outside Bengal during the lockdown. Also, trains and buses were hired to bring back migrant workers, students and pilgrims stuck in various states.

“It is good that the government released a handsome amount to give benefits to those who have applied for various schemes at the Duare Sarkar camps. If the funds were not allotted, the purpose of the programme would have been hit badly,” said an official.

Government documents state 38.88 lakh of the 71 lakh applicants had already availed themselves of the service since the Duare Sarkar camps started.

“The target is to deliver service to all eligible applicants by the end of January next year. This is the reason why additional funds were required,” the official added.

The government officials said of the 71 lakh applicants, 42.41 lakh applications were filed seeking inclusion in Swasthya Sathi, which is a state government-sponsored health insurance scheme.



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