Kolkata: A PIL was filed at the division bench of Calcutta High Court’s Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya on Monday challenging the decision of the state government to pay a donation of Rs 70,000 to each of the 40,000 odd community Durga Puja committees this year.
The division bench has admitted the petition and a hearing in the matter is slated this week.
This year Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the state government’s donation to the Puja Committees to Rs 70,000 from the amount of Rs 60,000 last year. This will be in addition to the subsidised electricity bill and advertisements from different state government departments.
In fact, while announcing the decision for enhanced donation at a programme on August 22 this year, the chief minister herself expressed apprehension of the matter being dragged to the court. “There are some cockroaches who are always waiting for the slightest opportunity to move the court on any trivial issue,” the chief minister said.
Her apprehension came true on Monday with a PIL filed in the matter. Already the state government’s donation has attracted scathing criticism from the economist circles in the state. They have claimed that the total largesse to the tune of Rs 350 crore, including donation, electricity subsidy and state government advertisements, is equivalent to 57 per cent of the total cost of Chandrayaan-3 expedition at Rs 615 crore.
However, the chief minister has her own justifications on this count. “Durga Puja is not just a festival. It is also a huge business opportunity providing income to lakhs of people directly or indirectly associated with the festival. A huge market of around Rs 60,000 crore is being created over this festival every year,” the chief minister said on Tuesday justifying the decision to enhance the dole.