Kolkata, April 1 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for at least Rs 25,000 crore to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I earnestly urge you to sanction a grant of a minimum Rs 25,000 crore for West Bengal and release the funds still due to us from the government of India.
“To uphold the spirit of cooperative federalism, we need this minimum help from the Central government to cope with this unprecedented impasse at this hour to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said in the letter.
“Our state finances like that of many other states, are in a dire situation with practically no revenue flows after the closure of all businesses. Despite this, we have somehow been able to pay the salaries, wages and pensions of government employees this month though some major states of the country could not do that on full.
“And even with the massive debt trap left behind by the previous government, we were able to service the debt so far, but future remains uncertain,” she said in the missive.
Banerjee said the state also had to meet its commitments towards girl child, students, farmers, unorganised workers, weaker sections, minorities, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe people and those from the other backward classes, besides having to honour its commitment of providing free ration to almost 9 crore people, “who need this so crucially to survive in this perilous time”.
The Chief Minister claimed the Centre has already reduced its devolution to the state by over Rs 11,000 crore and was yet to pay Rs 36,000 crore owed by it to the state.