The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal rapped on river mop-up

New Delhi, June 22: The Centre has rapped four states, including West Bengal, for creating “serious bottlenecks” in the operation and maintenance of assets crucial for implementing the National River Conservation Plan.

At a meeting on the Central National River Conservation Authority last week, Union environment minister T.R. Baalu pulled up Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttaranchal, besides Bengal. But he praised the Delhi and Haryana governments for a job well done.

The completed river conservation works include sewage treatment plants, pumping stations, sewers, low-cost toilet complexes and crematoria.

The conservation plan, which includes the Ganga Action Plan, is operational in 18 states.

“Most state governments and local bodies which have the responsibility of operating and maintaining the completed projects have not been able to fulfil these obligations,” a Central note said.

The Centre has asked Bengal to expedite projects and ensure that the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority acquires land in time to avoid delays and cost overruns.

The state government also has to repair a 150-metre-long damaged sewer laid under the Ganga Action Plan in Behrampore town.

The Centre said many state governments had not provided adequate and timely funds for the continuous operation of sewage treatment plants, pumping stations and sewers. Bengal and Bihar have provided only 50 per cent of the required funds while Uttar Pradesh has provided Rs 10.50 crore as against an annual requirement of Rs 30 crore.

Ninety per cent of the project cost is shared by the Centre and states on a 70:30 ratio. Public funding accounts for the remaining 10 per cent.

The Centre said it will not increase its outlay even though there has been an increase in costs because of a delay in implementing projects. It advised Uttar Pradesh to collect a token amount from pilgrims who attend the Kumbh mela and take a dip at Hardwar “for operating and maintaining the assets”.

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