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Eye on polls, Mamata announces free tabs for students, slashes rate of RTPCR tests

She also announced 3% dearness allowance for government employees.

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata | Updated: December 3, 2020 8:38:00 pm
‘Where has PM-Cares money gone?’: Mamata targets CentreWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (Express photo)

With an eye on the upcoming Assembly polls in West Bengal, which are barely four months away, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday that her government would provide free tablets to Higher Secondary and Madrasa students in the state.

She also announced three per cent dearness allowance for government employees.

Also, in a huge relief for humble households affected by Covid-19, the chief minister announced further reduction of the rate of RTPCR tests from Rs1,250 to Rs 950.

Convening a meeting of organisations represented by state employees and backed by the ruling Trinamool Congress, Banerjee said, “In the midst of the pandemic and the lockdown, many needy students failed to attend online classes as their parents can’t afford computers or laptops. They don’t have smartphones either. Hence, we have decided to provide tablets free of cost to all such students in madrasas or pursuing the Higher Secondary course. As many as 9.5 lakh students will benefit from this scheme. We have almost 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasas. All our HS students at these schools would be provided with tabs.”

Also Read | ‘Govt at doorsteps’ drive launched in Bengal, BJP says public funds used to campaign

“We will try to provide these tablets as early as possible. However, there is some procedure involved as we have to invite tenders to purchase these tabs. Only then can we give them to the students,” the CM said.

“The central government froze allocations for payment of dearness allowance for two years, but we didn’t. We are paying salaries and DA in full,” Mamata added.

On dearness allowance, Home Secretary Harikrishna Dwivedi said, “For this, we will have pay an additional Rs 2,200 crore to government employees.”

The chief minister also asked Education Minister Partha Chatterjee to explore the possibility of providing tablets to other secondary and upper-primary schools so that they can also start online classes at the earliest. “We can set up a committee involving Science and Technology, Madrasa and Mass Education departments to examine the feasibility of this project,” the Chief Minister told Chatterjee.

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