Ahead of the assembly elections in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday virtually launched the ‘Maa’ scheme under which her government would provide a meal at a nominal cost of Rs 5 mainly to poor people.
They will get a platter of rice, dal, a vegetable and egg curry for Rs 5.
“The government will bear a subsidy of Rs 15 (per plate) while people will get it at Rs 5,” Banerjee said.
Self-help groups will operate the kitchens from 1 pm to 3 pm every day and such kitchens will be set up everywhere in the state gradually, the chief minister said.
“I will go and taste it one day,” Banerjee said. People will get the meal on a first-come-first-serve basis.
“This is a unique idea. We had announced this scheme in the budget and managed to launch it within eight days,” she said thanking officials of various departments for making it possible within such a short time.
The state government has allotted Rs 1,00-crore for the scheme, said Banerjee who is also the Trinamool Congress supremo.
“It started on an experimental basis and there may be initial hiccups,” Banerjee said.
On the first day, Maa kitchens started functioning at a few places in Kolkata and districts such as Malda, Dakshin Dinajpur, Paschim Medinipur and Howrah.
The ruling Trinamool Congress had in September last year launched a similar initiative named — ‘Didir Rannaghar’ in the state to provide meals at Rs 5 to migrant workers who lost their jobs during the lockdown.
The assembly election is due in the state in April-May.
Meanwhile, on the ‘Duare Sarkar’ (government at doorsteps) programme which concluded on February 8, the chief minister said, “I express my gratitude to everyone for making it a big success.”
Launched on December 1 last year, ‘Duare Sarkar’ is an initiative of the state government for delivery of some of its specific schemes at the doorstep of people through camps organised at the levels of gram panchayat and municipal ward.
“Over 1.77 crore of applications have been submitted. As many as 85,13,006 Sasthya Swathi cards and 20,13,639 Khadya Sathi cards have been issued from these camps,” she said.
Banerjee also inaugurated a study on the creative economy around Durga Puja festival 2019 commissioned by the British Council on behalf of the state department of tourism.
The study reveals that the worth of the creative economy around the festival Rs 32,377 crore that year, she said.
“It is a huge amount. It is 2.58 per cent of our state GDP,” Banerjee said.