Accusing the previous government of playing the minority card for political gains that eventually left the minority population empty-handed, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a host of projects in the education, health, housing and employment sectors for the minority communities here on Saturday.
She also said that her government would bring by October a draft Bill for reserving some government jobs for the minorities.
Accusing the previous government of leaving an empty coffer and debts of around Rs.2.9 lakh crore, Ms. Banerjee said that it, however, would not be a constraint for the government to disburse loans and scholarships for the minorities.
“I have been told repeatedly about the government’s ailing financial health. But it is the fault of the previous government who had put an embargo on payment of all kinds of allowances as well as release of funds for implementing development projects due to shortage of funds. I will not allow my minority brothers and sisters to suffer for the misdeeds of others,” she said, after handing over loan and scholarship cheques worth Rs.21.37 crore to a section of the 54,141 beneficiaries of the West Bengal Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (WBMDFC).
Asking economically disadvantaged minority students to approach the government for sponsorships for higher studies, Ms. Banerjee said the government would disburse Rs.122 crore apart from the WBMDFC’s scholarship amount for paying scholarships and stipend to such students to check drop-outs.
She added that by 2012, the number of scholarship and education loan beneficiaries would be increased by over a lakh from the 7.5 lakh now.
Referring to a notification issued by the previous Left Front government announcing 10 per cent reservation for minority candidates in government jobs, Ms. Banerjee said that her government would bring a draft Bill to the effect within three months and an expert committee would be set up soon for giving opinions about it.
“The previous government acted in a hurried manner and failed to place the bill properly and it did not get the Governor’s consent. We shall give it a fresh look and place a Bill in the Assembly within three months,” she said.
Ms. Banerjee said the government had plans to build 39 Urdu medium schools, three polytechnics, 7,002 anganwadis, 717 primary healthcare centres and distribute 5,000 solar lanterns in districts with substantial minority population.
She also said that 50,000 housing societies would be set up for the minority communities, of which 5,000 would be within the Kolkata Municipal Corporation area.
“Since infrastructure for minority development in the districts is in poor shape, an office of the WBMDFC will be set up in each district to monitor and implement the various government projects for the minorities… An employment bank will be created to keep a database of the number of minority youths eventually receiving government job offers. Skill-based vocational training will also be imparted to the minority youths,” Ms. Banerjee said. Hindu