Over 30 lakh already applied for cash assistance: Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said a total of 30 lakh women had already applied for Lakshmir Bhandar scheme that offers Rs 500 each to general caste women and Rs 1,000 each to SC/ST women every month through Duare Sarkar camps that started on Monday.
“Thirty lakh women have already applied for the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme... In some areas, many are gathering to fill up forms. I would request all to have patience as the camps would continue till September 15,” the chief minister said after an administrative review meeting at Nabanna on Wednesday.
Sources said the rush to apply for Lakshmir Bhandar was encouraging for the ruling establishment as it proved that the scheme could be a game changer ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, but at the same time the huge gathering at the camps was giving a headache for the state administration in the backdrop of the pandemic.
“The main problem is that Covid-19 protocols have been thrown out of gear at many camps. We are concerned because we don’t want these camps to trigger the third wave of the pandemic in Bengal,” said a senior official.
Considering the huge gatherings at the camps, chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi has asked district magistrates to increase the number of camps.
Initially, it was planned that 17,000-odd camps would be set up under the month-long programme, but now it has been decided that 22,000-odd camps would be launched to avert large gatherings.
The chief minister said 46 lakh applications had already been received in the first three days of the Duare Sarkar camps.
“Maximum number of applications have been submitted seeking benefits under the Lakshmir Bhandar programme.... It is very natural that many people would apply for a new scheme,” she said.
According to sources, the initial trend of the Duare Sarkar camps gives a clear trend that the number of applications under the scheme would surpass the state government’s initial assessment.
“Initially, we had estimated that 1.6 crore beneficiaries would be registered under the new scheme. But now, it appears the number of beneficiaries would be much more,” said a senior official.
Sources at Nabanna said the success of the Duare Sarkar camps clearly suggested that the target of the government to reach out to common people had clicked. “Now, the top brass of the government are keen on holding the programme twice a year,” said a source.