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PRESS RELEASEMarch 10, 2022

PROJECT SIGNING: West Bengal Gets $125 Million to Help Citizens Access Social Protection Services

The World Bank

NEW DELHI, March 10, 2022 – The Government of India, the Government of West Bengal, and the World Bank have signed a $125 million loan to support efforts to help poor and vulnerable groups access social protection services in the state of West Bengal.

India’s eastern state of West Bengal runs more than 400 programs that provide social assistance, care services, and jobs. Most of these services are offered through an umbrella platform called Jai Bangla. The West Bengal Building State Capability for Inclusive Social Protection Operation will support these interventions at the state level, with particular focus on vulnerable groups such as women, tribal and scheduled caste households, and the elderly, as well as households in the state’s disaster-prone coastal regions.

The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance stated that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to have seamless systems in place to deliver inclusive and equitable social protection in times of crisis.  The Project in West Bengal will focus on building the capabilities of the state government to expand coverage and access to social assistance and targeted services for poor and vulnerable groups within the State.”

The agreement was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India; Sudip Kumar Sinha, Secretary, Finance, on behalf of the Government of West Bengal; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.

“With its fast-growing urban population and pockets of the urban poor, West Bengal has recognized the need to move from a fragmented, scheme-based social protection system to providing an integrated basket of social protection benefits and services to its most vulnerable citizens,” said Junaid Ahmad, the World Bank’s Country Director in India. “The project will support and strengthen the state’s capability in this area to ensure that it can deliver social protection services — both cash and in-kind — to all its vulnerable citizens.”

A recent survey found that while food and in-kind transfers reach most poor and vulnerable households in West Bengal, the coverage of cash transfers is weak. Access to social pensions by the elderly, widows, and disabled persons is also weak due to cumbersome application processes and a lack of automated systems for application and eligibility verification.

Over the next four years, the operation will help strengthen the state’s capability to expand coverage and access to social assistance and to deliver cash transfers for the poor and vulnerable through a consolidated social registry.

West Bengal faces challenges related to manual data entry, inconsistent beneficiary data across departments, and a lack of data storage and data exchange protocols. The operation will help digitize the state’s unified delivery system, the Jai Bangla platform, to help consolidate disparate social assistance programs and speed the delivery of social pensions to vulnerable and poor households. 

The project will also support the creation of a teleconsultation network for social care services, complemented by a cadre of case management workers who can help households with advice on eldercare and links to health services and facilities.

It will also create an institutional platform to improve coordination and effectiveness of government interventions to address the state’s low participation of women in the labor force.

“Lack of coordination among departments leads to duplication of efforts in service delivery. The project will assist in overall system improvements, helping to significantly improve the capacity of the state government to identify beneficiaries faster, track expenditures, and plan and monitor benefit delivery for the vulnerable,” said Shrayana Bhattacharya, Qaiser M. Khan, and Ambrish Shahi, World Bank’s task team leaders for the project.


New Delhi
Nitika Man Singh Mehta
Diana Ya-Wai Chung
+1 202 473 8357


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