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Extended holidays, tax sops for defying strike in Bengal

Kolkata, Feb 20 (IANS) To reward government employees, transporters and traders who defied the shutdown call by unions, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday announced longer Durga Puja holidays and tax sops for them.

Banerjee assured the 'babus' that they would get around 10 days of holidays at a stretch during the Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the state.

The chief minister, who had announced a warfare against the two-day countrywide strike, assured the "diligent" officials that their leaves would be adjusted in a way so that they get a continuous 10-day break.

On the eve of the strike, the government had issued a circular warning government employees against being absent.

Addressing a press conference, Banerjee said almost all state government departments saw about 100 percent attendance.

"We always think about welfare of the employees who deliver good work. We are a humane government. Last year during the puja, we declared holidays for a stretch of eight to 10 days. This time also, we have prepared the package," Banerjee said.

Hailing the employees for not participating in the strike, she said the workers were helping the government "restore" work culture.

"So we will adjust the leaves in such a way that they will again get a 10-day holiday during the 'pujas'," she said.

The chief minister also said the government would give tax relief to traders who kept their shops open.

"I have seen the areas where shops are open. KMC (Kolkata Municipal Corporation) is also doing a survey. We will give some tax relief to traders who have kept shops open," she said.

Private bus and minibus operators who brought out the vehicles would also be entitled to tax relief, she said.

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