West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday dismissed rumours that all taxes need to be cleared for availing benefits of the “Lakshmir Bhandar” (Lakshmi store) scheme and said a complainant can dial her office for redressal of her grievances.
The chief minister’s comment came in the wake of allegations of cut money being demanded in the districts though she did not cite any specific instance.
Addressing a press meet at the state secretariat, the chief minister said, for enrolling on the scheme the beneficiaries will only have to fill up the form at “Duare Sarkar” (government at doorsteps) camps to be held for one month from August 16.
Around 1.6 crore people are expected to be a part of the West Bengal government scheme, which was a part of the Trinamool Congress’ election manifesto, aimed at providing financial assistance to women heads of families in the age group of 25-60 years.
Under the initiative, the state government will provide Rs 1,000 per month to women heads of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families, and Rs 500 to those belonging to the general category.
Asking people not to be swayed by any misinformation, Ms Banerjee said “the form for “Lakshmi Bhandar” will be free of cost and will be only available from “Duare Sarkar” camps.
“There will be a unique ID given on the form which will be linked with AADHAAR. Only that form will be accepted.”
If someone collects the form from outside, printed by any agency, that will not be accepted, the chief minister said.
Ms Banerjee said a rumour was being spread in parts of North 24 Parganas district that one has to clear taxes to avail the “Lakshmi Bhandar” scheme.
“But it is false,” she said.
Women not employed in government services or permanent private-sector jobs, and not getting retirement benefits will be eligible for the scheme, she added.
“In case anyone has any complaint, she can call the toll free number at the chief minister’s office. Any grievance will be dealt with on the lines of “Didi ke Bolo” (tell Didi) helpline (launched two years back),” she added.
While “Lakshmi Bhandar” is a financial benefit scheme for women, the “Duare Sarkar” camp was announced last year as an outreach programme.
Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition in West Bengal assembly Suvendu Adhikari said the chief minister has broken her promise within three months of returning to power.
Referring to the ”Lakshmi Bhandar” scheme announced by Ms Banerjee, he said before the elections, the party had promised a minimum income for all women in West Bengal if it comes to power.
About five crore women are residing in West Bengal. but after coming to power, the number of women beneficiaries of the scheme has been reduced to 1.6 crore, he said.
Mr Adhikari said the yearly outgo for the scheme will be Rs 15,000 crore and will add to the state’s debt burden to a great extent.
The chief minister further said, to reach essentials at the doorsteps of people, “Duare ration” will be launched from the day of “Bhai Phonta” (a festival when women pray for their brothers’ long life and good health).
The “Duare Sarkar” camp will be held till September 15 where people will get information about 18 schemes, including “Swastha Sathi“, “Khadya Sathi“, Caste certificate, “Sikshasree“, and “Kanyashree“.
Already 17,107 camps have been shortlisted but the figure will rise as many areas are still submerged, she said.
The chief minister also said as per a revised notification of the Union government, the state has declared August 20 as a holiday on the occasion of Muharram instead of August 19 as announced earlier.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)