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Buddha nudges Asok on urban cash

Calcutta, Nov. 9: The Centre has sanctioned urban renewal projects worth Rs 880 crore in Bengal but work has not started as the state government has yet to match the amount.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today asked state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya to speed up the release of funds so that the work can begin.

“We have to start work on the approved projects or else the Centre will not sanction any further projects from Bengal. The chief minister has promised to speak to finance minister Asim Dasgupta for releasing the money,” Bhattacharya said after a meeting that reviewed the progress of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

The Bengal government will have to tone up the property tax collection process, too, to obtain more assistance from the Centre under the mission.

The government’s current collection rate is 30 per cent, but the Centre has set a target of 85 per cent.

“Our main defaulters are various central agencies like Calcutta Port Trust, railways, BSNL, which owe us Rs 500 crore in property tax. Other state government departments owe around Rs 75 crore. As for the municipalities which are not paying up, we will deduct the outstanding tax from their annual budgetary allocation,” the minister said.

The urban development department is gearing up to place more proposals before the Centre, ranging from flyovers to renovation of Dalhousie Square.

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