Kolklata : Expressing serious concern at the fast deteriorating socio-economic condition of the journalist fraternity in the state,Chief minister Mamata Banerjee here today announced her decision to bring about a new bill in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly soon to ensure security of job for all types of journalists to help them overcome financial and other constraints.
Announcing her decision to ensure a financial protection and guarantee of job for all journalists including those from print,electronic and digital media besides the photo journalists, at the inauguration of the year long platinum (75th year) jubilee celebrations of Kolkata Press Club here this evening, the Chief minister amid huge applauds said she was ‘fully aware of and very concerned’ at the immense financial constrains being faced by most of the journalists across the country and wanted to take some positive steps to ensure that their jobs in every media organisation was fully secured both during their working period as well as after retirement with enough financial benefits.
My government always made maximum efforts to help distressed journalists through several means’, she said and recalled from her personal experience to say that ‘I know several news channels after running successfully for sometime,were forced to down their shutters throwing its employees in deep troubled waters and their future in jeopardy who had no other means to survive’.
During the past several years my government has extended financial and other assistance to several such institutions to come out of red and resume their journey once again with limited resources’ she said with a heavy heart.
However, before placing the proposed bill for journalists welfare in the August house the Chief minister asked the Kolkata Press Club office bearers including its President and Secretary to form a separate committee and prepare a Blue Print on how to go about it, and submit their proposal to the government at the earliest to make the move soon afterwards.
Earlier referring to the constant change in the form of journalism in the country, like elsewhere in the world, the Chief minister said in earlier days the journalists,mostly in print media had to run from piller to post to collect their news and after gathering all information after such great efforts had to write them in proper perspective to make them interesting to their readers.
Describing Media as the 4th piller of Democracy, the Chief minister also cited a number examples and recalled the rich contributions of a number of veteran journalists of yester years like Barun Sengupta, Amitava Chowdhury and a few others.
“I used to read their articles and other contributions with awe’, she said adding but these days the gathering of news had become much more simpler with most of the information coming through various electronic platforms and even through social media making the job of present day journalists much more easier by all counts.
Once again turning her attention to the problems of journalist community as a whole, the Chief minister apart from announcing the allocation of a 3.5 katha of land at Nonadanga on the Eastern outskirts of the city for Kolkata Press Club for building its own complex, since the present one in the Maidan area is not only rented but is also the property of the Armed forces.
She also donated Rs One Lakh to the Press Club from her own fund of Rayalaty from her own artwork and writing of books.
She also and informed that Kolkata Corporation under the initiative taken by Mayor Firhad Hakim, a ten Katha land at Rajarhat would soon be allotted also to the Press Club to help setting up a Middle Income Group Housing Complex through Cooperatives for the needy journalists who did not have their own house.
‘I also remember that as the Railway minister I have made some contributions for the repair and renovation of Kolkata Press Club,the land for which at the present venue was granted to them by Former Prime minister Jawharlal Nehru way back in 1957’, she recalled.
Earlier, the Chief minister who was handed over the life membership card of the 75 year old club, on behalf of the state government handed over a cheque of Rs one lakh to the widow of a young photo journalist who took his own life because of financial constrains. Kolkata Press Club also contributed Rs 25,000 to the family as a mark of solidarity
She also handed over the required papers for monthly government pension to as many as 69 veteran journalists. Earlier similar pension of Rs 2,500 per month was granted to 30 other old and poor journalists.
Kolkata Press Club President Snehasis Sur welcomed the Chief minister, Mayor Firhad Hakim and Power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee on to the dais and other guests while highlighting the long journey of the Club to become massive organisation and one of the most glorilous clubs for journalist community in the city and elsewhere in West Bengal.
After the programme Club Secretary Kingshuk Pramanik thanked the Chief minister for her series of benevolent schemes for the journalist community in the state and promised to use her contribution (of Rs one lakh) for the aid of poor and needy journalists in future.