Mukherjee generous to poll-bound Bengal

Monday, February 28, 2011

KOLKATA - Three days after being showered with goodies by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, poll-bound West Bengal Monday reaped rich dividends from the budget for 2011-12 presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mukherjee, like Banerjee, hails from the state and represents the Jangipur constituency of Murshidabad district in the Lok Sabha.

While Banerjee, the supremo of state’s main opposition Trinamool Congress - the second largest partner in the United Progressive Alliance government led by Mukherjee’s Congress party - gave a slew of projects, railway lines and express trains to the eastern state, the finance minister mainly concentrated on providing grants to several educational institutes.

The general budget earmarked Rs.50 crore for an upcoming centre of the Aligarh Muslim University in Murshidabad district. He had earlier sanctioned Rs.25 crore for the facility which is located in his constituency.

Mushidabad is the only Muslim majority district of the state. Muslims constitute 25 percent of the state’s electorate.

Mukherjee also released Rs.10 crore for setting up the Kolkata centre of the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha, at Rajarhat in the north eastern fringes of the city.

“Litterateur Mahasweta Devi was trying for this centre. She had spoken to me. And we agreed that it was needed,” Mukherjee said in an interview to a private new channel.

He also doled out Rs.200 crore to the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, ahead of its diamond jubilee celebrations.

Besides, the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, received a special grant of Rs.20 crore for upgrading a financial research and trading laboratory.

“They have undertaken a big project for intelligent stock market study and research. They had requested me for some funds when I had visited the premises recently,” he said.

The state’s educational institutions had also gained from the railway minister’s budget proposals.

She announced collaborations with Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur for using jute geo-textiles in embankment design, a partnership with Jadavpur University for development of new designs for rail steel bridges, besides a scheme with the IIT, Kharagpur.

Mukherjee said his proposal to provide Rs.3,000 crore to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development to benefit handloom weavers who have been unable to repay debts to handloom weaver cooperative societies will also help the state, which had a large number of weavers and handloom cooperative societies.

Besides, Mukherjee’s proposal for a 100 percent block grant of Rs.25 crore (2010-11) and Rs.30 crore (2011-12) for each of the 60 selected backward and tribal districts facing left-wing extremism problems will benefit the state’s Wst Mindapore, Purulia and Bankura districts.

Mukherjee’s announcement of a Rs.1 crore international award to be instituted in memory of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th birth anniversary is May 7 this year, is also likely to strike a chord with the people in Bengal. Tagore is considered the greatest icon of the state.

Filed under: Economy

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