Helping the Downtrodden
· Pension: The amount of monthly pension offered by the Government to the Disabled, Senior Citizens, Tribal Pensioners, Fishermen, Farmers and Widows has been revised upwards from Rs. 500/- to Rs.1000/- during the tenure of this Seventh Left Front Government. The number of beneficiaries have also increased manifold.
· The Social Welfare Department offers Disability Pension (since 1980), Widow Pension and Old Age Pension (since 1979) to more than 160300 recipients. The number of beneficiaries of Disability Pension has increased 5 times, recipients of Widow Pension has increased 3-1/2 times and the number of Old Age Pensioners have been enhanced by 90% in the last five years.
· PROFLAL & AAM AADMI PLAN: Beneficiaries of the Provident Fund Scheme for Landless Farmers (PROFLAL) have also swelled in number. About 25 lakh landless agricultural labourers would benefit from the provisions of PROFLAL and Aam Aadmi Schemes this year. The age limit for eligibility of the schemes has also been raised from 50 to 60 years.
· Financial Assistance to the workers of closed factories :- Even in 2006, the monthly financial assistance to the workers of closed down factories and Tea-gardens was Rs.500/- only, which has been increased to Rs.1,500/- at present.
· Beside the Transport Workers :- The State Government has extended a consolatory assistance of Rs.2000/- per head to transport workers rendered jobless due to withdrawal and non-replacement of vehicles with registrations prior to April 1, 1993. The decision is unprecedented in the country.
· The State Government spent about Rs. 400 Crore in the last financial year so that the farmers do not have to bear the brunt of surplus production of potatoes. The objective was to protect the interests of potato-growers.
· Welfare of Hawkers: The Seventh Left Front Government adopted the West Bengal Urban Street Vendor Policy in October 2010. Adoption of the Policy was an unprecedented step towards legalizing the Hawkers and safeguarding their interests. The Government will now consider adopting welfare measures like education, health security, training, loan assistance etc. for hawkers in consonance with the Policy.
· Indira Awaas Yojana: 111512 houses were constructed under the programme in the year 2008-09 while in 2009-10 214827 houses have been constructed. The number has almost doubled.
· Total Sanitation Campaign: The number of Sanitary Toilets constructed in 2008-09 was 448120 while in 2009-10 529663 Sanitary Toilets have been constructed. That is 81543 more than the previous year's total.
· Pucca houses for the Economically Weaker Sections: A number of programmes are being implemented in West Bengal for the Economically Weaker Sections. The Housing Department has launched its Aamar Bari Project in December 2009. A beneficiary in possession of 2 decimals of land whose monthly income does not exceed Rs. 6000/- may get a Pucca house under the scheme. This project is being implemented through the Fisheries, Forest, Sunderban Affairs, Minority Affairs, Backward Classes Welfare, Paschimanchal Unnayan and the Panchayats and Rural Development Departments and the Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority.
· Houses for Slum Dwellers:- The Urban Development Department has been constructing 142000 new houses in accordance with the Basic Services for Urban Poor Programme for 47 municipalities within the Kolkata and Asansol Mission City Areas under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. These apart, work for the overall development of slums has been going on. Moreover, the Municipal Affairs Department has been constructing 52000 dwelling units for the urban poor in 80 towns, under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme. According to a report published by the Union Government in 2010 West Bengal is among the 3 best performing States in provision of Housing for Rural Poor. West Bengal also ranks 2nd in the country in providing Houses for Poor Families belonging to Minority Communities.
· Subsidy for averting Bus Fare hike: West Bengal has set a glaring example by not increasing Bus Fares despite the steep hike in petrol and diesel prices imposed by the Union Government. Even the private mass-transport system is thus being provided indirect subsidies by the Government. The Left Front Government was compelled to take such a decision to protect the interest lower and middle income groups, notwithstanding the resultant strain on the public exchequer. The decision entailed an expenditure of about Rs.100 Crore this year.
· Employment through Animal Resources: Department of Animal Resources Development of the Government of West Bengal has been distributing 20 lakh chicks free of cost every year among the female members of the Self-Help Groups. By setting a rare example par se across the country, the State Government offered a one-time grant of Rs. 500/- initially to every family affected by the Bird Flu epidemic. A Goat-Rearing Unit worth Rs.1500/- was provided to them later, over and above the compensation provided by the Centre. Nearly 27 lakh cows were artificially inseminated across the State in 2009-10. This is also a record achievement. Nearly 76 lakh people in the State come under the purview of direct or indirect employment opportunities created through Animal Resources Development activities.
· The allocation made in the financial year 2006-07 for Development of Forests and Adjoining areas has been enhanced to more than 3 times in 2010-11. The Plan Allocation under the above-mentioned head has increased to Rs.103.88 Crore from Rs.31.70 Crore.
Rice at only Rs. 2/- per Kg.
· The State Government has been supplying rice at the rate of Rs. 2/- per kg only to 26400000 people, reeling under the burden of poverty. This facility has been extended not only to the people living below the poverty line, but also to the poorer people living above the poverty line. The Left Front Government is avowedly beside the common people, who are badly affected by the steep price rise.
786.62 Lakh man-days were created in 2008-09 in the State under NREGA. In 2009-10, 1551.71 Lakh man-days have been created. Between 2006-07 and August 2010, 4516.9 Lakh man-days have been created under the Programme. On an average a family got 26 days job in 2008-09, which increased to 45 days in 2009-10. Till October this year the count has already crossed 30 days.
Subsidy in Power Tariff for the Low and Middle Income Families
· The frequent upward revision of power tariffs can broadly be attributed to the policy of indiscriminate privatization adopted by the Government at the Centre. In this perspective, the Government of West Bengal has been thriving hard to safeguard the common interest of the in the lower and middle rungs of the society. In the wake of the upward revision of the power-tariff by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission in July 2010, the State Government has been extending a subsidy of Rs.120 Crore to relieve the consumers from the low and middle income groups. Nearly 20 Lakh consumers would now pay lesser charges for each unit consumed. The tariff will remain unchanged for 22 lakh consumers and for 36 lakh consumers, the charges actually payable now would be less than the revised tariff.