Amit Mitra, Minister for Finance, Industry and Commerce, West Bengal, placed three suggestions for Rotary in the fields of healthcare and enterprise during his speech at the Humanity Hero Awards session at the Centennial Summit.
He urged Rotary to set up three more x-ray diagnostic centres as the first one with ultrasound, haematology and ECG machines has surpassed expectations in treating needy patients. “Over 150,000 patients have benefitted in the last four years at this centre which charges 40 per cent less than the market price. I restarted the bus service which used to drop rural patients at the doorstep of the x-ray centre which employed 27 people. Now, it has a surplus of $200,000 which is deposited in the bank,” Mitra said.
RIPN Shekhar Mehta intervened and said that Rotary will set up, not three, but six more diagnostic centres in the near future.
Following the lead given by Rotary in paediatric heart surgeries — 1,000 done in the centenary year — the minister said that the government has given priority to Shishu Sathi, a healthcare scheme that offers free heart surgeries to children.
Mitra lauded Rotary for taking diverse projects worth $30 million (₹200 crore) in 2019–20 across Bengal, and called upon clubs to scale up projects at the grassroots level.
His second wish on his bucket list was on the MSME front; the Minister urged Rotary to create a special cell for MSMEs attached to the ministry that can skill micro and small entrepreneurs, mentor and help them find export markets. “With your expertise, you can help them to scale up their work, guide them to expand their business. We have set aside ₹70,000 crore for the growth of the MSME sector having 900,000 units in the State and any proposal from Rotary will be cleared by me in no time,” he promised.
Thirdly, there are 549 industrial clusters in West Bengal and “Rotary can adopt and nurture at least five of them, particularly the tannery and leather cluster which is the largest. We will extend all support to your initiative.”
He hoped Rotary projects across the State would touch ₹500 crore in the next three years and called upon Rotary leaders to take the lead in creating jobs in West Bengal.