Bengal’s Education, Tourism Depts Win Gold at Skoch Award; Suvendu Questions Credibility

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said school and higher education and tourism departments of her government have secured gold at the Skoch award. Instituted in 2003, the Skoch award recognises efforts in digital, financial, social inclusion, governance, inclusive growth, technology and applications and corporate leadership. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Suvendu Adhikari, however, claimed that “there are serious allegations regarding the credibility of such awards”.

“School Education Department and Higher Education Department of GoWB – both have won the prestigious SKOCH GOLD awards. Heartiest congratulations to all officials and members for this remarkable achievement,” Banerjee wrote on Twitter.

State Education Minister Bratya Basu also expressed happiness over the achievements and complimented all the stakeholders in the sector, including teachers, officials and students, for their efforts and services to ensure that teaching activities do not get hampered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Happy to share that the Tourism Department of GoWB has received the esteemed SKOCH GOLD award for transformational performance during #COVID19! Congratulations to all officials and members for your hard work and dedication. Let us keep aiming higher,” Banerjee also said on the microblogging site.

Adhikari alleged that spending more results in “bigger awards”. “Some WB Govt depts have won ‘prestigious” SKOCH Awards recently. There are serious allegations regarding the credibility of such awards. Seems like everyone who applies gets the award. In final stage one just has to buy expensive stalls for displaying themselves,” the BJP leader said.

He also said, “Spending more results in bigger awards. For eg (example) Skill development dept bought a Rs 12 lakh stall & got Gold award while someone bought Rs 2 lakh stall & received Silver award or SKOCH order of merit. These ‘for sale’ awards raise questions about the authenticity of the awardees.” West

Bengal Power Minister Aroop Biswas denied the allegations and said the Skoch gold award is an important honour for every recipient who meets certain criteria and benchmarks. “The BJP was rejected by people of the state in the last assembly elections,” he added.

Notably, the central government’s tribal affairs ministry had received the ‘Skoch challenger’ award for its performance in e-governance earlier this year, while Maharashtra’s rural development and Haryana’s industries and commerce departments had also won the award for liability register payment system and ease of doing business respectively.

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