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Debt-ridden Mamata Banerjee government 'gifts' Rs 70 crore to West Bengal Durga Puja organisers

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Kolkata, West Bengal Aug 30, 2019, 10.16 PM (IST) Written By: Pooja Mehta Edited By: Sparshita Saxena

At a time when West Bengal is reeling under a debt burden, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced a Durga Puja ‘gift’ to the organisers that would cost the state exchequer as much as Rs 70 crore.

As many as 3,000 Durga Pujas are organized in Kolkata, while the rest of Bengal witnesses over 25,000 Durga Pujas pandals across the state. Each of these 28,000 Durga Puja committees would be 'gifted' Rs 25,000 increased from Rs 10,000 given last year.

Banerjee also announced an additional Rs 5,000 for the Durga Puja committees which are managed by women only. This apart, she also announced that CESC and WBSEDCL – electricity supply boards in Kolkata and West Bengal - respectively will offer a 25 per cent concession on the total electricity bill of each of the puja pandals.  

“We are a poor man’s government but we still try our best for the Durga puja committees. Instead of Rs 10,000 given last year, we are increasing it to Rs 25,000 this year. I am aware that the economic condition of the Durga puja committees is not very well and the electricity unit prices have also risen hence we are offering a 25 per cent discount on electricity bills. Kolkata Municipal Corporation tax has also been eradicated,” said Banerjee.

The Mamata Banerjee-government inherited a debt of around Rs 2 lakh crore from the Left Front government when it came to power back in 2011. However, the chief minister and state finance minister Amit Mitra have been raising the issue of a waiver of the debt time and again with the Centre. 

While the total loan repayment figure for the year 2018-19 stood at Rs 49,656 crore, it rose to Rs 56,183.16 crore for the year 2019-20.

This is not the first time when the Bengal government has announced Durga puja ‘gift’ for the puja committees. Last year, an amount of Rs 10,000 was given to as many as 28,000 puja committees costing an amount of Rs 28 crore to the state exchequer.