Have donated Rs 600 crore to neighbourhood clubs since 2011: Mamata Banerjee
Despite bitter criticism from the opposition over government donations to neighbourhood clubs across Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has spent Rs 600 crore ever since Trinamool Congress came to power in 2011.
She revealed the figure while felicitating renowned sportspersons at Netaji Indoor stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday. “Each club got Rs 5 lakh, out of which Rs 2 lakh was given in the first year. The remaining sum was disbursed over the next three years. We have helped more than 15,000 clubs so far,” she said.
Almost all neighbourhood or ‘para’ clubs in Bengal hold community pujas and musical soirees during festive season. The more active ones also organise sports meets, blood donation camps, relief work etc. Many Trinamool leaders and ministers are associated with clubs that organise Durga puja.
The chief minister justified her decision to offer financial aid to such local organisations. “These clubs not only take part in developing infrastructure for sports but also do a lot of social work,” she said.
“If a woman is harassed, members of these clubs rush to her rescue. If a road is damaged, local clubs take the first initiative to repair it. Clubs play a leading role in creating a culture that prompts neighbours to help each other,” said the chief minister.
Banerjee claimed that she did not stop the donations despite the burden of loan left on the exchequer by the erstwhile government. “The Left Front ignored sports. Its budget allocation for sports in 2010-11 was only Rs 74 crore. We have hiked that to more than Rs 450 crore in 2017-18,” she said.
Banerjee also expressed her concern about the brain drain witnessed in Bengal. “We have no problem if you go to another state or a foreign country to pursue higher studies. But I request you to return after completing your studies. Take part in development projects. By taking part in the development of Bengal you will become part of the nation- building process,” she quipped.
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