Bengal govt starts releasing funds to puja committees


With the completion of the by-elections and lifting of the Model Code of Conduct, the West Bengal government has started releasing ex-gratia to all the registered puja committees of the state as promised by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The state’s finance department on Tuesday released Rs 201 crore and Rs 91 lakh to the police directorate so that it can disburse Rs 50,000 each to the puja committees.

According to the police directorate data, there are a total of 40,382 puja committees in the state, including 3,000 in Kolkata.

The Chief Minister had launched this ex-gratia system in 2020 when the puja committees were suffering because of lack of sponsors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year too, Banerjee had announced similar doles for the puja committees during her meeting with them in August.

Though the announcement was made much before, the disbursement of funds was kept on hold because of the by-elections and the subsequent sanctions imposed by the Election Commission.

With the announcement of bypoll results and the lifting of the Model Code of Conduct, the state now faces no hurdle in disbursing the funds.

According to the state government officials, the funds are being allocated so that the puja committees can purchase and distribute masks and sanitisers to the visitors.

Moreover, the puja committees have also been asked to prioritise ‘Safe Drive, Save Life’ — a project designed by the Chief Minister to minimise road accidents in the state.