KOLKATA: With three out of five earning members of her joint family of 15 losing their jobs since the lockdown, Rajarhat resident Salma Khatun had no clue how her family would manage her marriage expenses due on Sunday. However, on the wedding evening, she could wear the Benarasi saree of her choice, the biryani platter was on and so was the groom’s favourite ‘rajbhog’ among other savouries – thanks to the financial help from the state government’s Duare Sarkar outreach programme of doorstep delivery of welfare schemes that allowed Salma to enrol for the Rupashree programme and avail of a one-time financial support for the marriages of poor women.
“We were extremely worried thinking of ways to manage the expenses especially as my brother and uncle had lost their job during the pandemic. I don’t have words to express how much this money would help us,” said Salma, a first year college student who got married to her long-time friend Saeed Ali on Sunday.
Launched in April 2018, the Rupashree scheme allows girls above 18 years of age to get one time grant of Rs 25,000. The scheme aims at incentivising schooling of teen girls and delaying their marriages till its legal age at 18.
Salma’s family had approached local councillor and the vice chairperson of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, Tapas Chatterjee, on Wednesday evening. “He called the government officials immediately and we were asked to visit a Swasthya Sathi camp the next morning with a wedding invitation card. We met the officials at the camp on Thursday and they came to our house for an inspection, made us fill up the application form, took some signatures from the neighbours and by Saturday our application was accepted,” said Sahabuddin Mondal, Salma’s brother who lost his job during the lockdown.
Chatterjee, who was instrumental in helping the family said the rule states a family must apply at least a month before the date of the marriage so that the government can get enough time to scrutinise applications. “But because of this Duare Sarkar programme, the application could be approved in such a short notice,” said Chatterjee.
Salma’s father Safiuddin Mondal, who delivers LPG cylinders to households, said such were the circumstances that he didn’t even have the courage to borrow money from relatives and friends for the wedding as he had no clue if they would be able to return the amount.