Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday launched the expanded version of the state's basic income support programme for female heads of families called `Lakshmir Bhandar' (Lakshmi's treasury) which will cover 5 lakh more families from now on, with the click of a button at a mega-business summit being held here.
Under the scheme, launched last year, the state government provides Rs 1,000 per month to women heads of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families, and Rs 500 per month to those belonging to general category. With the expansion, the programme will now cover 1.55 crore families.
Mamata chose to launch the expanded version of the popular scheme at the Bengal Global Business Summit which is being attended by several leading tycoons and CEOs including Adani group chief Gautam Adani, ITC chief Sanjiv Puri, Tata Steel's T V Narendran, RPG group's Sanjeev Goenka, Bandhan Bank's Chandrashekhar Ghosh. Bajaj Auto's Sanjiv Bajaj, Kirloskar group's Vikram Kirloskar and Sunitha Reddy of Apollo Hospital.
The state's Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar earlier launched the summit stating the state has enormous potential for growth. Dhankhar said West Bengal "was a land of opportunity" which needs to replicate its earlier success story. Bengal along with Bombay province were the most industrialised provinces of India at the time of independence. "There is a need to combat flight of capital," the Governor said.
Mamata had earlier made it clear that her government would work to include more beneficiaries in welfare schemes but underscored the need to explore new areas to generate revenue to run such plans.
“Those who are left out of schemes like Lakshmir Bhandar, old age pension and widow pension can be added to the list of beneficiaries at the next Duare Sarkar camps.… But we need to generate more revenue, else, how would we run schemes like Lakshmir Bhandar for which Rs 4,073 crore has already been spent?” asked the chief minister.
She explained how the number of beneficiaries under various schemes could be expanded.
“Another 1.5 lakh beneficiaries could be added to the list of old age pension beneficiaries. Similarly, another 1 lakh could be added to the widow pension scheme... Now, over 1.5 crore women are getting benefits of Lakshmir Bhandar scheme. Those who are left out could be added to the list of beneficiaries at the next Duare Sarkar camps,” she said.
Then, Mamata took care to explain that her government needed to generate revenue from new areas to run the schemes smoothly.
She said all truck termini located at the land ports along international borders in Bengal would be run by the transport department.
“The revenue generated from these units would come directly to the treasury…. The unused infrastructure like the Krishak Bazars and Patha Sathis should be utilised properly so that revenue could be generated from them,” the chief minister said.