The West Bengal government Thursday decided to take over two channels of tainted Saradha Group,Tara Muzik and Tara Newz,amid criticism from the Left. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cleared Rs 26 lakh from the CMs relief fund as ex-gratia payments to the 168 employees of the channels. Each employee will get Rs 16,000 as one-off payment. The employees have not been getting salary since February.
The fact that Mamata and her team were scouting for a TV channel for long may provide answers to such a move. We will enact a law to take over. There is an association that now controls the activities. The same association will take care of the affairs of the organisation, said Mamata after a meeting with the representatives of the organisation. The state government already runs a media house,Basumati Corporation. It was revived by Mamata after the previous Left government shut it due to non-viability.
The move nevertheless came as a relief to Tara employees. The CM promised that she would stand by us and she has kept her promise, said Deepankar Nag,spokesperson for Tara TV. The move has heightened the expectations of other media houses under the group that are facing closure.
Sudipta Sen,the chairman of Saradha Group,had on April 14 announced the closure of 18 media channels. In a mail to employees of the two channels,Sen had said he was declaring the channels inoperative from April 15. You please look for new jobs. I wish you all the best, he had written. Sen is now in police custody for cheating investors.
On April 15,employees led by Arpita Ghosh,a close aide of Mamata,filed a police complaint accusing Sen of forgery,cheating and non-payment of salaries. But by then Sen had fled Kolkata,He was nabbed after 15 days from Kashmir.
Employees of both the channels formed a cooperative and moved the Calcutta High Court seeking nod to run the two media houses. The court accepted the request on May 6 and ordered setting up of a panel comprising Atri Bhattacharya,Principal Secretary,information and culture,Maharaja Sinha,retired HC judge and Aloke Mukherjee,an entrepreneur,to oversee the operations. The same panel will now oversee the operations of the channels,the CM said.
However,the CPM flayed the government move. What the CM has done is illegal and immoral. If you take over something you will have to pay compensation to the owner. You will have to pay Sudipta Sen. We will oppose it, said Suryakanta Mishra,leader of the Opposition and CPM Politburo member.