The state and central governments have come up with relief packages for West Bengal farmers who suffered economic losses during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. There is more relief for elderly farmers and fishermen in the state before the festive season of Durga Puja.
As the lockdown is almost lifted and life slowly gets back to normal, farmers will have one more reason to put majority of their worries on the backburner, for the moment atleast. The state government has announced two months of advance pension during the festive season of Durga Puja next month which is a total of Rs. 2,000 for each farmer and fisherman. The advance pension will be given for the months of October and November. This however will cost the State exchequer Rs.22 crore.
The announcement comes amidst state finance minister Amit Mitra’s claims of states have been in debts. He lashed out at the Centre on the GST issue at the end of August. “Huge debts are being trust on the states which will destroy the health of the states and federalism will be trust. Therefore brut power of centralism will come into play,” said Finance Minister Amit Mitra.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rolled out the advance pension for the farmer and fishermen community, who are uncertain of their land and crop post the lockdown and cyclone Amphan which hit the state on May 20th. The advance pension is expected to help 87,911 elderly farmers and 20,000 elderly fishermen.
The finance department has reportedly fixed a quota of pensions for 1 lakh for farmers’ pensions as more names are likely to be added to the list. Farmers will have to be above 60 years of age and will have to provide valid documents retaining to their land.
A quota for fishermen has been fixed at 20,000 for the advance pension.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, around 10,281 farmers died by suicide in 2019, accounting for 7.4% of the total number of suicides in the country. The state administration has said that there have been no farmer suicides in the last two years in West Bengal going by the NCRB report.
With an eye on the 2021 Assembly elections, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) government is looking at ways to reach out to the grassroots and consolidate her votes apart from providing financial relief during the festive season of Durga Puja.