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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: In a good news for West Bengal government employees, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government on Thursday announced a three per cent hike in dearness allowance (DA).

The decision by the Mamata government has come months ahead of Assembly elections in the state. West Bengal is scheduled to hold Assembly polls in April/May next year.
Mamata Banerjee said the state's coffers would never run dry for its employees, although it was yet to receive dues of Rs 85,000 crore from the Centre.

Banerjee, during her address to members of TMC- affiliated government employees' association at the state secretariat, said dues payable by the Centre to Bengal had been mounting over a period of time under several heads -- UGC grant, GST and funds for COVID-19 battle among others.

"We had not been receiving our financial dues. At least Rs 8,000 crore is due under GST. Despite financial constraints, we had met the recommendations of all previous pay commissions (sixth pay Commission). We will also provide three per cent hike in DA from January 2021," she said.

The chief minister said the exercise will incur an expense of Rs 2,200 crore on the state's exchequer.

"Over Rs 85,000 crore dues are yet to be cleared by the Centre but that will not prevent us from giving our people their dues," she said.

The CM further said that 9.5 lakh students of 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasas will be given tablets for free for their online classes. The state has also made arrangements to ensure RT-PCR tests are conducted at a rate as low as Rs 950, she stated.

Noting that employees of central government organisations and undertakings are currently "insecure" amid talks of privatisation of institutions, the CM said her dispensation has never sacked anyone and instead increased salaries of staff even in the midst of the pandemic.

"Employees of the railways, Coal India, SAIL and Air India are currently not feeling very secure as these institutions might be shut down any day. Even the ordnance factories are not immune..." she said.

The situation in the country is such that "the farmers are agitating on the streets, while the labourers have lost their voice," Banerjee claimed.

"I have spent more than Rs 33 crore (from state exchequer) to the railways to bear the fares of hapless migrant labourers, but the central government did not do anything to help them return home from their workplaces during the COVID-19 induced lockdown," she said.

The CM also claimed said that the Centre has not given the state its dues for Amphan relief and COVID-19 care.

(With PTI Inputs)

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