Cash-strapped Bengal rolls out largesse to football clubs

Rs 40 crore will be given to different local clubs

At a time when the state is staring at an acute financial crisis, the Bengal government is doling out grants to football clubs and is also spending on promotional events.

According to the state finance department, the government has planned an outlay of Rs 60 crore for the purpose.

A total of Rs 40 crore will go to different local football clubs, while Rs 15 crore will be spent on the Vivek festival to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the World Youth Festival. Around Rs 4.15 crore has been earmarked for the Junglemahal Cup, a football tournament.

Besides, Rs 1.18 crore will be allotted to the Sundarban Cup football tournament in South 24 Parganas.

CM to hand over fund

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to hand over the money to 2,400 football clubs on Saturday.

A total of 1,600 clubs will get Rs 2 lakh each, while  the 800 others, which already received a grant last year, will get Rs 1 lakh each.

The largesse comes at a time when the state is battling financial crisis, with Banerjee persistently demanding moratorium on loan interest and special grants for the state.
Holding the previous Left Front government in the state and the Congress in the Centre responsible for the plight, Banerjee had said Bengal will find no taker even if it is put on auction.

The government’s move has triggered a controversy, especially after it failed to utilise even 25 per cent of the funds allocated for developmental works.

“By throwing money they are trying to lure the youth. This is not only unethical but also unbecoming of a government,” a senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said on condition of anonymity.

“Most of the clubs which got the grant last year didn’t even have registration. They were chosen on the basis of recommendation by Trinamool Congress leaders. A democratically elected government cannot use public money for personal gains,” he added.

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