Amit Mitra in a file photo.
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By Bappaditya Paul

Kolkata: With the Lok Sabha polls barely two months away and, a recent National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report putting unemployment rate in India at a 45-year high in 2017-18, Mamata Banerjee government today announced a major sop for the unemployed in Bengal.

In the state Budget tabled in the Assembly today, Banerjee’s government has announced one-time assistance of Rs 1-lakh each to 50,000 unemployed youths in the state for self-employment.

State finance minister Amit Mitra told the House that the scheme will come into force from 1 April and that Rs 500-crore has been allocated for the purpose in this fiscal year, i.e. 2019-20.

“We will extend this assistance to 50,000 boys and girls every year for them to become self-reliant. Because, they will then, in turn, create more employment through their enterprises,” he said.

Asked about the eligibility criteria for availing this assistance, Mitra said that the government is yet to formulate the nitty-gritty. He also could not specify as which department of the state government will implement the scheme.

“The processes and related norms will be notified later. But rest assured, it will be a transparent process,” he stressed.

Although Rs 500-crore has been allocated for the scheme for the coming fiscal year effective 1 April, because of Lok Sabha polls, the state will be able to disburse the assistance not before June.

In this state Budget for 2019-20, Mitra has announced some sops for the contractual and casual workforce employed in various wings of the state government.

The monthly salary of Group C and D contractual employees of the state government has been hiked by Rs 2,000 a month.

In addition to this, the ex gratia that the contractual employees receive at retirement has been increased from Rs 2-lakh to Rs 3-lakh.

In a related move, it has been proposed that Group D staff who had no scope for promotion before, will now be eligible for elevation to Group C.

“This is provided the concerned staff has Madhyamik (school final) or above qualification and has completed three years in service,” the finance minister said.

The monthly honorarium for Anganwari and ASHA health workers, who are casual staff, has been increased by Rs 500 a month with effect from 1 April.