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KOLKATA: With the work on the socio-economic development in the three Maoist-affected districts in West Bengal gathering pace, the State government said on Tuesday that it would complete by September the distribution of ration cards to poor tribals living there.
Home Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters that stress was on the distribution of ration cards, and the work progressed well. “This is part of the scheme formulated for the three districts within the Jangal Mahal,” he said, after a review meeting.
The meeting was convened by Chief Secretary and attended by the Home Secretary and the Finance Secretary.
As many as 1.9 lakh ration cards would be distributed to people with an annual per capita income not exceeding Rs. 24,000 in the blocks, covered under the Integrated Tribal Development Programme, in the districts of Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura. In Paschim Medinipur alone, 1.45 lakh cards would have to be distributed.
The scheme which the government announced on June 17 this year envisages supply of subsidised rice at Rs.2 a kg to Scheduled Tribe families. Female students were to be given cycles to encourage them to continue their studies. The State government rolled out the scheme after it accepted the Centre's surrender and rehabilitation scheme. The process of surrender has begun.
A July 27 meeting here of the Secretaries of the Departments concerned and the magistrates of the three districts decided that the cycles would be distributed through schools, and the process should start in August. It also decided that all efforts should be made to commence distribution of ration cards by August-end.
Cost to exchequer
Mr. Ghosh said the scheme for distribution of subsidised rice and cycles would cost the exchequer Rs.50 lakh a month.
As for opening of new hostels, another priority, he said besides the two projects now under way (one each for boys and girls), 24 more such hostels would be set up in the Maoist-affected areas to increase the capacity to 5,000 from 1,350. The School Education Department was asked to move the Finance Department for more funds required for building hostels attached to the schools in the affected blocks.
In tune with the scheme for filling vacancies in primary schools, with preference being given to qualified local tribal candidates, it was decided to fill 417 vacancies in primary schools, with preference for qualified local tribal candidates. “The work has already begun,” Mr. Ghosh said.
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