Mamata Banerjee govt introduces Duare boats for remote areas
The Mamata Banerjee government has introduced “mobile camps” in the fourth edition of the Duare Sarkar programme so that welfare services can be delivered to people in remote areas using vehicles and boats.
Sources said that during the earlier three Duare Sarkar runs, camps were mostly held in schools, government buildings and community centres. The first edition of the drive in December 2020 is believed to have yielded rich dividends for the Trinamul Congress in the Assembly elections months later.
It was later found that many people in far-flung areas in places such as Jungle Mahal and the Sunderbans could not be reached because of inaccessibility through conventional means. The Bengal government provides services related to 24 schemes under Duare Sarkar.
“A large number of people living in hamlets on the fringes of the forests or islands of the Sunderbans did not come to the camps because of poor communication facilities. The district magistrates were asked to prepare a map plotting such pockets and reach out to those areas on vehicles or boats. The mobile camps started operating on Saturday,” an official said.
The chief minister is said to be laying stress on reaching out to remote areas against the backdrop of the panchayat polls next year.
According to sources, ballpark estimates suggest that 30-50 per cent people living in distant areas are deprived of the benefits of welfare schemes and an overwhelming majority of such individuals belong to the SC-ST communities.
The administration in South 24-Parganas arranged around 108 vehicles and 30 boats to reach faraway areas of the Sunderbans from Saturday.
“As per the direction of the government, we are focussing on the remote areas of the districts to register people for welfare schemes. Our officials are reaching out to these places in boats and cars and offering services to the people at their doorsteps,” said P. Ulaganathan, the South 24 Parganas district magistrate.
In districts like Darjeeling, the authorities have formed trekking teams to reach secluded hill villages that have no motorable roads.
“To address the issues of people in such villages, we have set up mobile camps and are sending an official along with a data operator equipped with laptops,” said Sanjay Gurung, block development officer of Bijanbari in Darjeeling.
Mobile camps are also fanning out in Purulia and Bankura where hundreds of hamlets are located in forest areas.
“We have identified remote hamlets inside forests and started reaching out to the residents through mobile Duare Sarkar camps. Our campaign materials mentioning the dates when the mobile camps will visit and what schemes will be covered are being printed in the Olchiki script for tribal hamlets,” said K. Radhika Aiyar, the Bankura district magistrate.
The fourth edition of Duare Sarkar will continue till May 31. The applications received will be processed between June 1 and 6 and services will be delivered to those found eligible at the earliest after verifying applicants. Around 45,000 camps have been scheduled across the state.
On Saturday, 3,877 camps were organised and around 7.1 lakh people registered for different schemes.
“We are collecting the forms and registering names on the spot. Before the delivery of services, our officials will again visit the areas and hand over documents such as caste certificates and Krishak Bandhu papers,” said Purulia district magistrate Rahul Majumdar.