Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government has announced that it will transfer Rs 10,000 to the bank accounts of the 9.5 lakh students in Class 12 at government schools and madrasas instead of giving them tablets.
On December 3, Banerjee had announced that her government would distribute tablets among Class 12 students in 14,000 government and government-aided schools and 636 madrasas. However, the chief minister said that technology companies have expressed inability to supply as many products in such a short time.
The money, therefore, will be transferred to students’ accounts so that they can buy tablets or smart phones and continue with online education.
“We floated tenders but we were told that we would get a maximum of 1.5 lakh tablets. As the Central government has told us not to purchase products made in China, we were limited to other brands. So, in three weeks’ time, we will transfer the money directly to the account of the students,” the chief minister said at a press conference.
The Bengal government has set a target to ensure that students have access to this technology at least three months before the state board exams, which are likely to be held in June, according to The Telegraph.
The paper also quoted an anonymous government official as having said that the largesse could reap benefits for the ruling Trinamool Congress come election time. Bengal is scheduled to go to polls in April or May in 2021.
Banerjee is on a clear dole spree, having promised a 3% raise in the dearness allowance (DA) for state government staff on the same day as the initial tablet distribution announcement.
The cost of an RT-PCR test for COVID-19 has been reduced to Rs 950 from Rs 1,250.
In September, the government announced financial assistance of Rs 50,000 for the Durga Puja to 37,000 organising committees, and a monthly stipend of Rs 1,000 each for around 8,000 poor Hindu purohits (priests) in the state.