For minorities, year of bounty

Keeping an eye on the panchayat elections scheduled in May 2013, the state government has taken a series of measures to improve the lot of minority communities.

For example, this year it distributed Rs 350 crore among 24 lakh students from the minority community as against Rs 269 crore distributed among 16.57 lakh students in 2011-2012, according to a report of the minority department submitted before the chief minister a week ago, and which was accessed by The Indian Express.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in charge of the department.

The report also revealed that this year,1 lakh youths were provided loan assistance for self employment to the tune of Rs 175 crore. Last year the number of beneficiaries stood at 66,620 and Rs 116 crore was distributed.

Other initiatives for minority students last year include: 5,147 additional classrooms completed while 1,860 more classrooms are under construction in minority areas, 10 hostels for minority students have already been constructed and 73 more are under construction at madrasas or schools with minority concentration.

The report also says that 20 acres of land has been allotted for construction of Aliah University at New Town. Government-owned construction company HRBC has been entrusted the task of building the main campus and an amount of Rs 200 crore has been earmarked for this. The report says that minority students are being trained in 57 trades at the present campus of Aliah university in central Kolkata.

So far as allowances for imams (fixed at Rs 2,500 a month) and muezzins (Rs 1,000 a month) that the chief minister announced about a year ago, so far 20,465 imams and 16,726 muezzins have been provided with this assistance.

"The chief minister is very serious about the condition of minorities and she sincerely wants their lot to improve along with that of the majority community,'' a senior official of the minority department told The Indian Express.

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