PIL at Calcutta HC against state govt’s dole for community Puja committees

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed at the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday against the West Bengal government’s decision of granting Rs 60,000 each to the registered communities for the upcoming festive season.

In the PIL filed by an association of lawyers at the division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj, the petitioners have questioned the rationale behind granting such huge amounts to the registered Puja committees and more specially when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has herself admitted that the state is going through a financial crunch.

The division bench has admitted the petition and the Chief Justice himself assured that the matter will be heard on a fast-track basis. The matter is likely to be hard on August 26, 2022.

On August 22, at a preparatory meeting with the representatives of the different community Puja committees, the chief minister announced that this year the state government will pay an amount of Rs 60,000 to each of the 43,000 registered puja committees. In the last festive season, the amount was Rs 50,000.

She, at the same time, announced that she will request the electricity distribution companies in the state to give a discount of 60 per cent on the electricity bills to the Puja communities.

While making the announcement, the chief minister herself admitted that she is taking this decision despite facing a severe cash crunch following the reluctance of the Union government in realising its dues to the state.

The opposition parties described this announcement as a move to keep the members of the community puja clubs in confidence for the panchayat elections next year and Lok Sabha elections in 2024. The economists too criticised the decision as wasteful and avoidable especially at a time when the state’s debt to gross domestic product (GSDP) ratio was hovering at an alarming level of over 30 per cent.

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