It was learnt that state education department officials had released cheques amounting Rs 4,200 to each of the 115 state-aided schools to transport nearly 7,000 students to the venue to attend the programme and provide them snacks. The budget of the programme this time is Rs 45 lakh, which the report said is 15 times more than the 2010 edition, which was held during the time of the former Left Front government. The extravaganza was hosted at a time when the state government was desperately seeking funds from the Centre for carrying out development work.
Sources in the education department said funds for the programme came from those allocated for the SSA in two parts of Rs 25 lakh and Rs 20 lakh. The Centre's contribution in the SSA funds is 75 per cent. SSA estimates said building a school room takes about Rs 1.7 lakh, the report said which means at least 26 new school rooms could have been constructed with the budget fixed for this year's programme.
Decorators had been found setting up a large dais for the programme inside the stadium for the last three days. The government also planned to facilitate 100 government school teachers with a cash award of Rs 25,000 each, which is Rs 15,000 more than what was given during the Left days. The rest of the funds were meant for cultural programmes. Of the 115 schools identified, 35 are in Kolkata, 25 in Barrackpore, 20 in South 24-Parganas and 15 each from North 24-Parganas and Howrah, the report said.
Each of these schools had been instructed by the school directorate to send 60 students along with teachers for the programme. One of the district inspector said Rs 3,000 were given for hiring buses and Rs 1,200 for snacks for the students. Preferences were given to students from Class V to VII and not those from Class X because of upcoming examinations.