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Asim announces Rs 800-cr plan
- Money for roads and rural facilities

Calcutta, Sept. 17: The government today promised to pump in more than Rs 800 crore for improvement of infrastructure with roads in focus and rural development.

Finance minister Asim Dasgupta said at Writers' Buildings the state will borrow Rs 625 crore from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) under the rural infrastructure development fund scheme.

The government will also join Nabard to launch two pilot projects on capacity building for panchayats and infrastructure planning. Last year, a loan of Rs 500 crore was taken under the same scheme.

The government will also release Rs 192 crore for repair of roads.

'Roads across the state have been damaged considerably by this year's rain. After a discussion with the PWD (public works department) minister, we have decided to release Rs 72 crore for patchwork repairs and Rs 120 crore for thorough repairs. This is in addition to Rs 83 crore, which has already been released,' Dasgupta said.

The contractors assigned the repair jobs would be made to agree to a three-year guarantee clause 'so that any damage during this period is compensated by the contractor concerned', the minister said.

The PWD will coordinate with the zilla parishads to execute the work.

BOUNTY BREAK-UP
Rs 625 crore from Nabard:
Improvement of roads and bridges: Rs 250 crore
Water investigation and
irrigation: Rs 75 crore
Agriculture: Rs 40 crore (mainly for improvement of
seed farms and marketing)
Panchayat and rural
development: Rs 60 crore
(improvement of roads and
storage facilities)
Fisheries: Rs 20 crore
Animal resource development: Rs 15 crore
Food processing: Rs 15 crore
Social forestry: Rs 15 crore
Power: Rs 30 crore (mainly on substations for rural network)
Public health: Rs 20 crore
Education: Rs 20 crore
IT: Rs 15 crore
Tourism: Rs 10 crore
Regional development: 40 cr
192 crore more for roads
Rs 72 crore for ordinary repair
Rs 120 crore for special
repairs

The loan would be used for development of rural infrastructure ' for example, education, power and agriculture . Most of the projects would take off immediately and continue till next March. Some of the work, however, might continue till June.

The government has decided to launch the pilot projects to instil professionalism and better management skills among panchayats. Dasgupta said: 'Two districts will be selected to work as models. If the plan works out, they can be emulated as models elsewhere.' He added that two districts 'that have a bit of everything; agriculture, industry and need to develop' would be chosen.

Dasgupta today discussed the projects with Nabard managing director Y.S.P. Thorat.

'Panchayats earlier used to spend Rs 100 crore a year. Now they spend around Rs 1,000 crore every year under several state and central projects. The nature of work handled by these local bodies and their manpower has changed over the years. So the idea is to work on capacity building,' the minister said.

Nabard has agreed to set up its natural resource management centre for the east and the Northeast in the city. Dasgupta said land for the centre has already been allotted in Salt Lake.

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