With an eye on the upcoming rural polls in West Bengal, the State Youth Welfare Department announced on Thursday a financial assistance of Rs.9.64 crore for buying equipment for promotion of sports in all 341 blocks, 127 municipalities and six municipal commissions of the State.

 The decision has raised eyebrows as the Trinamool Congress government has been complaining of financial distress even to fund important welfare projects.

Only a day before Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said the State Government will have to look for alternatives to finance initiatives like providing scholarship to girl students and upgrading the existing infrastructure of higher educational institutions.

According to a Press release issued by the department, Rs.1 lakh will be allotted to each of the 341 blocks and the 127 municipalities will get Rs.2 lakh for development of sports. While five municipal corporations in Siliguri, Howrah, Asansol, Durgapur and Chandannagar will be given Rs.4 lakh each, Rs.15 lakh has been earmarked for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation where all the boroughs of the civic body will be given Rs.1 lakh.

The Government had announced a financial assistance of Rs.2 lakh each to 1,614 clubs in the State in January this year and also increased the outlay for the purpose from Rs.23 crore to Rs.40 crore.

The Government’s decision to pay money to the clubs had been severely criticised by the Opposition which said it was politically motivated and a drain on the State exchequer.