Kolkata: The West Bengal government today decided to take over scam-tainted Saradha Group-owned two television channels facing closure even as the opposition CPI(M) protested the move, questioning how a state government could own a TV channel.
The decision was taken following an appeal by employees of the two channels – Tara News and Tara Muzic – seeking government intervention, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters at Writers’ Buildings.
She said 168 employees of the channels would get an ex-gratia of Rs 16,000 each from this month.
The state government would provide Rs 26 lakh from the CM’s relief fund on humanitarian grounds to run the channels. However, it would not take the liability of the channels which amounted to Rs six crore, she said.
Opposing the move, CPI(M) leader Surya Kanta Mishra, who is the Leader of the Opposition, told reporters, “First of all, does the state government has the right to run a TV channel other than the Government of India which runs Prasar Bharati?
“Secondly, how can a state government take over the property of a chit fund company when the matter is subjudice?” Mishra asked.
“The government should withdraw its decision. The chief minister should ensure that the interests of depositors and employees are safeguarded by auctioning the property of the group,” he said.
Mishra also asked what would happen to employees of other media organisations, which were owned by the Saradha Group.
“The government should auction the property of the company to recover the money spirited away,” he said.
The Saradha group allegedly cheated thousands of small investors through ponzi schemes.