The West Bengal government is moving to take over two city-based television channels — Tara News and Tara Muzik — both of which are facing closure in the wake of the multi-crore scam in collective investment schemes involving their owner, the Saradha Group.

A section of the employees refused to accept a closure notice served on them in mid-April and are presently keeping the channels on air.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said an ex-gratia payment of Rs.16,000 would be made to the 168 employees of the two channels for the month. The takeover decision follows an appeal by the employees that the government intervene. It was on “humanitarian grounds” that Rs.26 lakh had been provided to the two channels last month from the sales proceeds of her paintings, Ms. Banerjee said.

The move would “help the journalists concerned to overcome a major setback” with the owners deciding to close down the organisations, the Chief Minister said.

Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, Surya Kanta Mishra, said the move was no solution to the problem at hand.