Mamata Banerjee doubles dole to Durga Puja committees

37,000 clubs to get ₹50,000 each

September 24, 2020 11:17 pm | Updated 11:17 pm IST - Kolkata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday announced that clubs organising Durga Puja in the State would get financial assistance of ₹50,000 each.

“I know that Puja committees are in trouble this year. We offer a small help to them … Since the problems this year have increased, we have decided to give ₹50,000 to each club,” Ms. Banerjee said at an event at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. The announcement was applauded by representatives of clubs at the venue.

There are nearly 37,000 community Durga Pujas organised by local clubs and the financial aid, up from last year’s ₹25,000, will cost the ex-chequer ₹185 crore.

Besides the ₹50,000 as assistance, the Chief Minister announced that the Fire Department and civic bodies would not charge any fee from Puja organisers.

In addition, the Calcutta Electric Power Distribution Company ( CESC) and West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited will offer a rebate of 50% on the power consumed by the clubs during the festival.

Thursday’s announcement drew criticism from the Opposition parties. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) State unit secretary Surjya Kant Mishra said at a time when the State government was unable to give even the promised rations or provide proper medical support for COVID-19 patients, this kind of expenditure was unthinkable.

Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) State vice president Ritesh Tewari said this again indicated that Trinamool Congress “defeat in the Assembly elections is a certainty”.

Last year, Ms. Banerjee had increased the financial assistance from ₹10,000 to ₹25,000 which had drawn much criticism. It was challenged in the Calcutta High Court, which refused to entertain the plea where petitioners said that the State can encourage a particular festival.

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