June 27, 2009

WB govt to provide financial assistance to Aila victims

KOLKATA: In what could provide some succour to those devastated by Cyclone Aila, the West Bengal government has decided to offer monetary assistance to over 3 lakh villagers for rebuilding their homes.

The size of the housing package isn’t known immediately. It could be anything between Rs 75 crore and Rs 350 crore, a senior official familiar with the matter told mediapersons. The state government will offer Rs 2,500 to Rs 25,000 per family depending on the extent of damage of their dwelling units. The state machinery is busy assessing the damage and puttting together a list of potential beneficiaries. The state’s finance department has firmed up the package a couple of days ago and activated banks to disburse the sum to villagers in North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas, the two worst-hit districts by Aila.
Accordingly, the state through banks will shell out Rs 25,000 per household for building a pukka home and Rs 10,000 for erecting a kuccha house. Likewise, it would offer Rs 5,000 and Rs 2,500 per family for repairing partially damaged pukka and kuccha dwelling units respectively.To avail of the benefit, villagers will need to have a savings account with any nearby bank. Incidentally, according to primary estimates, merely 20-25% of the targeted beneficiaries have bank accounts, raising questions about the success of the scheme. Given the magnitude of financial exclusion, state finance minister Asim Dasgupta has appealed to the likes of Allahabad Bank, State Bank of India, Uco Bank, United Bank of India (UBI) and West Bengal State Cooperative Bank to open zero-balance and no-frill accounts in a war footing. When contacted, UBI general manager Swapan Biswas said: The finance minister has called on select bankers just recently and made an appeal to open new bank accounts in seven days. The monetary assistance to end-users will flow via banks, It would be an daunting task for bankers by any stretch of imagination and may take at least a month.
Financial Assistance Plan per household:
For complete destruction of pukka houses: Rs 25,000
For partial damage of pukka houses: Rs 5,000
For complete destruction of kachcha houses: Rs 10,000
For partial damage of kachcha houses: Rs 2,500

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