Keeping to her promise to return money to the poor who had invested in the Saradha Group which went bust in April this year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday distributed cheques to 929 such depositors.

Those who received cheques, as recommended by the Justice (Retd) Shyamal Sen Commission set up the West Bengal government, had invested up to Rs 10,000 in the ponzi schemes.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Banerjee called upon people not to make any investment henceforth in any chit fund company in view of the Saradha Group scam in which thousands had been defrauded.

“It’s my appeal. Please don’t keep your money with any chit fund company. It is most unsafe. Rather save money at home if you don’t find any other option,” Ms. Banerjee exhorted the people.

Ms. Banerjee said her government wants to set up a Safe Saving Scheme in which small and medium investors could deposit their hard-earned money without any fear.

“But the scheme is yet to be finalised as an Act dealing with the scheme needs some clarification. Anyway, nothing will wait for any Act. We shall go ahead with our plan to return money to depositors of the Saradha Group of companies. I shall let you know when the scheme will be launched,” she said.

Justice (Retd) Shyamal Kumar Sen lauded the government initiative to return money to the poor depositors, describing the decision as ‘historic’.

Justice (Retd) Sen said that in addition to today’s 929 depositors, payment would be made to 1.04 lakh depositors before Durga Puja and two lakh more before Kali Puja.

The Chief Minister, however, said that processing was on for making payment to nearly four to five lakh depositors before Kali Puja.

Justice (Retd) Sen said that nearly Rs 50 crore would be spent before Kali Puja on making payment to the Saradha Group depositors. The state government earlier had set up a fund of Rs 500 crore for the purpose.

He explained that the money for payment to the depositors would be mobilised through sale of assets and properties of Saradha Group chairman Sudipta Sen. The excess amount would be retained by the state government.

So far, the Commission has heard nearly 8,000 depositors, while 17.39 lakh depositors registered their complaints.