Development projects announced, funds hope pinned on Delhi
Calcutta, Sept. 12: The Mamata Banerjee government has decided to initiate a string of development projects for north Bengal at an estimated cost of Rs 500 crore, more than half of which it hopes to receive from the Centre.
Key areas such as health, education, infrastructure development and culture will be covered under the projects, it was decided at the inaugural meeting of the reconstituted North Bengal Development Council (NBDC) at Writers’ today. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee chaired the meeting.
“We decided on a number of projects for the development of the six north Bengal districts. Various issues pertaining to the overall socio-economic uplift of the region featured in the meeting,” north Bengal affairs minister Gautam Deb told reporters.
The NBDC has an annual budget allocation of Rs 200 crore, which the state government has already disbursed. The council will also get Rs 30 crore from the Union government under the Central Rural Infrastructure Development Fund.
Deb said the state hoped to get the remaining Rs 270 crore from the Centre under the Central Backward Regions Grants Fund. The minister said the NBDC would draw up detailed project reports (DPRs) and submit it to the chief minister before the Pujas in the first week of October.
“If the Centre is satisfied that the funds will be utilised for the uplift of the backward areas, getting funds will not be a problem,” Deb said. Around 70 per cent of north Bengal is backward, sources said.
The Centre has been asking for a blueprint of the state’s development plans before disbursing more funds.
“The chief minister will look into the DPRs and fine-tune them before giving her approval,” Deb said. He said work on the projects would start after the Pujas and “will hopefully be completed in three months”. “We hope to complete most of the projects in three months. The remaining will be done by the end of this financial year,” he added.
The minister said five district hospitals in north Bengal would be modernised and upgraded at a cost of Rs 50 crore. “We are creating a database of the infrastructure needs of all north Bengal hospitals,” Deb said. “We will meet public works department officials to chalk out the details of our plan for the hospitals.”
The NBDC will hold a meeting with tribal development department officials to assess how much funds will be needed for the uplift of tribals.
The NBDC’s projects include setting up a Hindi-medium college in the Dooars, an agricultural university in South Dinajpur’s Balurghat, more Industrial Training Institutes and madarsa colleges, Nepali academies in Darjeeling and Mungpoo, an auditorium for a century-old Nepali girls’ school in Mungpoo, a 30km heritage zone in Cooch Behar and a permanent building in Jalpaiguri for the circuit bench of Calcutta High Court.
The government has also decided to renovate a house in Mungpoo that Tagore used to visit. The houses of folk poets Abbasuddin and Naib Ali Tipu in Cooch Behar will be renovated.
The government will carry out a “special audit” of the NBDC’s finances in the past 11 years. “Special focus will be laid on the Rs 48 crore that was supposedly spent on projects by the erstwhile council last year. These projects have no utilisation certificates,” Deb said.Courtesy:TheTelegraph.