Standing on the rice bowl of the state, chief minister Mamata Banerjee today clicked the button that meant disbursement of stipend worth Rs 2,385 crore directly to the accounts of 89 lakh Krishak Bandhu beneficiaries across the state, which she said, “Was my dream project and this I’d committed to ensure while I was campaigning for the 2021 Assembly elections, which finally came true today.”
The farmers, who still remain uncovered by Krishak Bandhu, the chief minister, suggested, “Visit the Duare Sarkar camps and get enrolled.” Each Krishak Bandhu beneficiary possessing at least one acre of farmland is provided Rs 10,000 as stipend annually and the stipend to the farmland labourers. According to the CM, “…is now also enhanced to Rs 4,000 annually.”
The Centre provides Rs 6,000 as stipend to the farmers against one hectare of farmland, which according to Pradip Majumdar, the CM’s agricultural advisor: “Seemed less beneficial to Bengal farmers as most of the farmers here don’t possess even a single hectare of farmland.” Three acres makes a hectare, incidentally.
The chief minister also described how the Bengal farmers have garnered the growth of foodgrain production to 57 lakh MT in the past 11 years, besides increasing the average income of the farmers three times during the period. Besides rice, the chief minister claimed that Bengal has escalated production of serials and pulses at least by 2.5 times. She said, “We’ve brought 66 lakh farmers under our state’s own crop insurance spending Rs 700 crore, besides, we’ve disbursed Rs 3,900 cr as relief to the farmers after any natural calamities in 11 years.”
Besides extending stipends and insurance coverages, the CM was critical in declaring harsh penalties for the officials and rice mill owners responsible for denial of food grain brought to paddy procurement centres. On 31 May in her administrative review meeting in Bankura, she thrashed the agri-marketing officials on the issue. Today, she reiterated the matter and suggested to the farmers, “If anyone refuses to accept your paddy, just lodge a complaint with the local BDO or lodge FIR with the PS. I’m directing the police to take immediate action. If anyone fails to take action, he shouldn’t be sitting in the chair.”
The chief minister routed the jumbo fund support to the beneficiaries from the dais at Goda locality here carrying forward the fragrance of Mati Utsav (earth festival), her own milestone project that she’d kicked off in Burdwan in 2013. She said, “The UNESCO has given recognition to our Mati Utsav in 2015 and observed the International Year of Soil.” The Mati Utsav however was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this year it couldn’t be arranged due to shortage of time but the chief minister offered Krishak Ratna Award – an integral part of the utsav to a bunch of farmers today.
Mamata Banerjee described Burdwan as Ma (mother), saying, “This district is the largest producer of food grain and feeds the entire state round the year. The state officials had prepared a helipad at Goda – the western end of Burdwan town for CM’s arrival. The CM arrived there by road. She said, “The public works department has set up this helipad here on the government land. I am asking the officials to maintain this as a permanent helipad for air connectivity with Kolkata and Andal airport in Burdwan West.”
Also, Mamata declared about enabling every ICDS and Asha health workers with mobile phone connectivity. She said, “I’m asking the health administration to provide a phone valued Rs 8,000 for everyone of the ICDS and Asha workers.”