Only 42% of WB’s Daure Sarkar beneficiaries received services: survey

A recent report by the Right to Food and Work Network in West Bengal has pointed out that only 42% of applicants who participated in the Duare Sarkar scheme had received what they had applied for at the time of the network’s survey. Duare Sarkar — which translates to ‘Government at the Doorstep’ — is a flagship programme of the State government launched in December 2020 months, before the 2021 Assembly election.

The survey comes ahead of panchayat elections in the State, after six rounds of Duare Sarkar have been completed. “The major findings showed that most of the people visiting the camps each time were not first-timers and were applying for the same scheme/service over and over again,” the survey report said. Another highlight of the report was that the most-advertised scheme in the camps was the Chief Minister’s coveted Lakshmir Bhandar, which provides a monthly honorarium to women. The maximum applications were from women applying for the Lakshmir Bhandar and Swasthya Sathi schemes.

The survey report, which was based on information collected from 2,500 respondents across the State, pointed out that Central government schemes had hardly featured in the outlay of the camps. “In the latest round in fact, MGNREGA did not feature at all. Rights-based provisions did not see the publicity or uptake that short term cash transfer based schemes did,” the report said.

The Right to Food and Work Network pointed out that a large number of people reported not having received benefits despite repeated applications in the Duare Sarkar camps. “Almost 30% in the case of Khadya Saathi, and 46% in the case of caste certificate applicants, had not received their entitlements, as on the fifth round of Duara Sarkar completion,” their press statement said.

The report also pointed out that with the Duare Sarkar camps, the “existing system of governance via the panchayat and block/municipality seems to have taken a complete blow”. 

“The system of accountability in whatever earlier form available in government and panchayat offices has disappeared as applicants visit these places post the camps only to be turned away and told to wait for the next camp. The Duare Sarkar camps have led to a total loss of control over selection of schemes and beneficiaries by ordinary voters,” the report said, adding that these camps were “disempowering people” from this point of view and “encouraging centralisation”.

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