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Mamata Becomes 1st Woman to Present Bengal Budget; Announces Formation of 'Netaji Battalion' in Kolkata Police

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses during the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Sammelan, in Kolkata, Thursday, Feb 4, 2021. (PTI Photo)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses during the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Sammelan, in Kolkata, Thursday, Feb 4, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Mamata Banerjee had to present the West Bengal Budget 2021 as Finance Minister Amit Mitra has been placed ‘under medical supervision’.

In the run up to the state assembly polls, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who on Friday became the first woman to present the West Bengal Budget, has announced the setting up of ‘Netaji Battalion’ in Kolkata Police department in the coming months.

In 2002, she had become the first woman to present the Union Railways Budget. On Friday, Mamata had to present the West Bengal Budget 2021 as Finance Minister Amit Mitra has been placed ‘under medical supervision’.

Her decision to set up the ‘Netaji Battalion’ in Kolkata Police department could be considered significant amid the ongoing tussle between the state and Centre over Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy.

While proposing a budget of Rs 2,99,688 crore for 2021-22, she said, "There will be an Azad Hind Bhawan in all the districts besides the formation of Netaji State Planning Commission (similar to Niti Aayog) in West Bengal and a separate 'Netaji Battalion' in Kolkata Police department in the coming months."

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Earlier, she had announced to set up 'Narayani battalion', 'Gorkha battalion' and 'Jangalmahal battalion', considering the sentiments and struggle of Narayani sena, Gorkhas and tribal people in Bengal.

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She also announced a waiver of road tax on all passenger transport vehicles from January 1 to June 30. "A detailed project report will be prepared for the construction of 46,000 km of rural roads in the next five years and 10,000 km rural roads will be constructed and repaired in the next year. We have allocated Rs 500 crore for these two projects. We have decided to come up with 16 new projects and allocated Rs 2,475 crore for this," she announced in the state assembly.

Mamata also announced the setting up of first 2,483 acre-industrial township in Purulia’s Raghunathpur, for which Rs 100 crore have been alloted. This project will not only bring employment generation in Jangalmahal but also put Jangalmahal on the industrial map of India.

The other major announcements made by her include upgradation of Andal Airport to international standard within 2023, for which Rs 150 cr have been allotted, expansion of Silicon Valley financial hub in phased manner, deep sea port at Tajpur (East Midnapore) for which Rs 7,000 cr have been set aside, gas and coal exploration in Deocha-Pachami (Birbhum district), regional flight connectivity from Balurghat, Malda and Cooch Behar and special financial aid for tourism sector, for which loans will be provided ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 10 lakhs though banks and the state government will bear the 50 per cent interest in the first financial year.

The other key announcements made by the chief minister were irrigation and water transport, old age pension (above 60 years), pension for widows above 18 years of age, allocation of Rs 1,000 cr and increased remuneration of para teachers and retirement benefits (this will cost the government’s exchequer Rs 100 cr), grant of Rs 50 crore for Madrasas, nearly 900 new schools for Ol-chiki, Hindi, Nepali, Urdu, Kamtapuri, Rajbonshi, Kurmali, English languages in Bengal along with appointment of 1,500 para teachers (total fund allocated today is Rs 300 cr).

Most importantly, for farmers, she announced an increased financial aid from Rs 2,000 to Rs 6,000 (divided in two categories including Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000) under Krishak Bandhu Scheme. This will cost the government’s exchequer Rs 500 cr.