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Maoist-affected villagers to get pension

By Mamatha

Largarh (West Bengal), July 15 (ANI): Giving a much-needed respite to locals reeling under the increased offensive by Maoist cadres in the region, the officials in West Bengal's West Midnapore District on Thursday decided to grant pensions and other aid to them to alleviate their poverty.

Eager to avail the facility, scores of villagers of Largarh village have been queuing up in front of the Block Development Office to interact with the officials and get more information about the pension scheme.

The District Administration Officials said besides the grant of old-age pensions, the villagers would also be provided medical aid.

"We have started this work under the universalisation of pension exercise. In our earlier attempt, we had been able to reach out to only 100,000 people, but this time we would be able to grant pension to nearly double that number," said Midnapore District Magistrate Narayan Swaroop Nigam.

"This is because we have used effective mass communication strategies to create greater awareness and curiosity," he added.

Villagers, however, retain their deep-rooted skepticism and allege that since decades, the politicians have exploited and manipulated development programmes due to which inequality in distribution and allocation of money remains high.

"Political leaders make all the decisions here. Our joy and progress lies in their hands. If they give permission for the grant of funds, we get some money; otherwise we have no option but to beg," said Karuna Mahato, a villager.

"We are happy that the government has decided to grant us pensions, but we hope that there will be equal distribution of the money," he added.

The officials further said the scheme would provide financially benefit to nearly 2,00,000 people living in the Maoist hotbed. (ANI)

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