Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday alleged that tea garden workers were “dying” in the aftermath of demonetisation and demanded the RBI restore and continue payments by the state government till March 2017.
“I demand RBI restore payments by our govt thru our DMs immdtly & continue till 03-17. Our hungry teagarden workers r dying due to NoteBandi,” Banerjee said on Twitter.
Her comments came on a day the Trinamool Congress’s legislators and senior state ministers organised a sit-in in front of the Reserve Bank of India office in Kolkata to protest the insufficient supply of new currency notes in the state.
Incidentally, RBI Governor Urjit Patel is in the city to attend the apex bank’s central board meet on Thursday.
Banerjee, also the Trinamool supremo, accused the central government of discriminating between states with regards to disbursement of cash from RBI.
“It’s shocking that CentralGovt is ruthlessly discriminating against Bengal & its toiling teagarden workers by starving them of cash wages while giving cash from RBI to BJP ruled state of Assam for tea garden workers.
“While both states started a similar payment model, suddenly Bengal’s payments were cut off end of November. Our workers are starving,” she said.
On Wednesday Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the week-long Bangla Sangeet Mela at Nazrul Mancha.
She said: “We are passing through a very bad time. People are suffering and their hearts have become full of sorrow and agony. I hope music will bring them relief and help them overcome their sorrows and sufferings.”
She said music was the “highest form of meditation and needs lots of practice,” and urged young people to “stop running after quick money and concentrate on music which will make them happy.”
Banerjee said 2,000 artists from all over the state would perform at the seven day festival. “There were many art forms that were dying before we came to power in 2011. Now, we have tried to revive them. Eighty thousand artists were getting monthly stipend and the state government tries to organise programme for them. Thus slowly they are becoming economically self sufficient and are able to pursue the art form.” Twenty artists were given sangeet mahasamman and sangeet samman.
This is for the first time when the Sangeet Mela will be held at four venues in the hills. They are Kurseong, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Siliguri. More than 200 artists will be performing in these venues. The programme in North Bengal will be held between December 16 to 18.
In Kolkata there will be 10 venues where Sangeet Mela will be held. They are Rabindra Sadan, Rabindra Sadan Mukta mancha, Sisir mancha, madhusadan mancha, Madhusudan Mukta mancha, Hedua park, Despriya Park, Phanibhusan Vidyabinod Mancha and Girish mancha. Apart from vocalists there will be instrumentalists and bauls who will be taking part in the weeklong festival.
A discussion will be held on Bangla sangeet e biswa sangeet er probhab on 17 December at Rabindra sadan Mukta mancha. There will be an exhibition at Gaganendra Sangrahasala.
Renowned Tabla player Deepankar Acharya was awarded Sangeet Samman, along with Indradeep Dasgupta, Sampa Bhaskar Kundu, Nupur Chanda Ghosh, Aditi Munshi and Amit Dutta.