Kolkata, Aug 22: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced enhancement in funds for Durga Puja committees by Rs 10,000 for each community puja committee.
Each committee this year will receive Rs 70,000 as compared to Rs 60,000 in the previous year. Last year too, the Chief Minister enhanced the amount to Rs 60,000 from the previous figure of Rs 50,000.
The additional bonus announced by the Chief Minister this year for these community puja committees will be government advertisements at attractive rates from the state industries and commerce and state tourism departments for each of these community puja organisers. This will be in addition to the electricity bill relief which they enjoy every year.
Meanwhile, state finance department sources said that currently there are around 40,000 community Puja committees in the state out of which 3,000 are within the periphery of Kolkata and the remaining are in the districts.
“So paying Rs 70,000 to each of these committees will mean a straight-away drain-out of Rs 280 crore from the state exchequer. Now if expenditure of accounts of government advertisements and electricity bill relief are added, the actual drain-out from the state exchequer will be easily Rs 350 crore or even more,” a state finance department official said.
However, the Chief Minister has her own justifications on this count. “Durga Puja is not just a festival. It is also a huge business opportunity providing income to lakhs of people directly or indirectly associated with the festival. A huge market of around Rs 60,000 crore is being created over this festival every year,” the Chief Minister said justifying the decision to enhancement of the funds.