Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that her government would give loans to 2 lakh youths to buy motorcycles and start “some sort of business or trade” on their own.
“We are working on the plan and loans would be disbursed from state cooperative banks,” Mamata said.
Sources in the state government said the bikes could be used to deliver goods or hawk items. “If needed, a box will be fitted on the pillion to enable the rider start some business like delivering goods to doorsteps. Once the scheme takes final shape, the government will announce the scheme in detail,” said an official.
Youths will get soft loans to buy the bikes for which the government was working on modalities such as subsidy on EMI or down payment.
State government sources said Mamata was eager to help lakhs of unemployed youths earn a living as the scope of jobs in Bengal was limited in the absence of major industries.
The chief minister, sources said, was encouraged by a similar scheme called Gatidhara launched a few years ago in which jobless youths were aided to buy cars and run them as taxis. “The scheme was a grand success and nearly a lakh youths had started earning under the scheme,” said an official.
A bureaucrat said that demand for home delivery of groceries and food items surged significantly during the pandemic even in remote parts of the state. “If bikes could be given to youths on easy terms, it would help them earn, particularly at a time when there is a demand for the (home delivery) service,” he said.
Trinamul insiders said that if the scheme is launched ahead of the Assembly polls, they might be able to avoid uncomfortable questions during the campaign. “Wherever we go, we receive hundreds of requests for jobs. It is not possible (for us) to arrange jobs for so many people. If the scheme is launched soon, we can ask job-seekers to apply under the scheme,” said a Trinamul MLA.