West Bengal’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has revealed a significant increase in the state government’s grants to Durga Puja committees, raising the amount from ₹60,000 to ₹70,000 per club.
During a meeting with various puja committees in Kolkata, Banerjee announced, “The state government has decided to increase the grant to Puja committees from ₹60,000 to ₹70,000 per club.”
In the state of West Bengal, approximately 40,000 community pujas take place, with around 3,000 of them being held in the city of Kolkata alone. Additionally, pujas are also conducted in housing complexes and individual residences.
In a study commissioned by the state government in 2018, conducted by the British Council, IIT Kharagpur, and Queen Mary University in the UK, the economic contribution of the creative industries associated with Durga Puja was estimated to be ₹32,377 crore. Banerjee remarked, “Today the volume may have doubled, it may be more than ₹60,000 crores. Many people, including folk artists, earn from here.” She also mentioned the anticipation of a considerable number of foreign tourists this year.
Banerjee acknowledged the potential for legal challenges, stating, “Someone may file a PIL in the court tomorrow raising questions as to why the grant was hiked. These clubs and puja committees conduct awareness programs and project the development works of the state government. We have a cash crunch.”
The evolution of the grants over the years was outlined by Banerjee, explaining that the West Bengal government initiated a ₹10,000 assistance to 28,000 puja committees in 2018. This amount was subsequently increased to ₹25,000 per committee in 2019, doubled to ₹50,000 in 2020, and further raised by ₹10,000 in 2022 to reach ₹60,000.
With increased grants of ₹60,000, Banerjee introduced another benefit for the puja committees. She declared that these committees would now be responsible for paying only one-third of their electricity bills, with the remaining two-thirds being waived by the state.
The augmentation of grants to Durga Puja committees reflects the state government’s recognition of the cultural significance and economic impact of these celebrations in West Bengal.
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