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Cong glare on bridge costs
- Charges of overspending against former CPM board

Raiganj, Dec. 3: The Congress-run zilla parishad has lodged a complaint with the Jalpaiguri divisional commissioner against the former CPM-led board for spending more than Rs 60 lakh above the sanctioned amount on three bridges in North Dinajpur.

The three bridges were built at Dasiar in Kaliaganj, Jamsetganj in Islampur and at Chalonia in Raiganj block.

Quoting an audit report, Congress leader and sabhadhipati of the zilla parishad Moqtar Ali Sardar alleged that while the expenses for the bridge at Dasiar were estimated to be Rs 50 lakh, that for Jamsetganj was Rs 1. 06 crore. There was no mention of the estimate for the Chalonia bridge.

But in all the cases, Sardar alleged, the actual expenditure had far surpassed the amount sanctioned by the North Bengal Development Council (NBDC).

According to the sabadhipati, in case of Dasiar bridge, the expenditure crossed Rs 67 lakh, while the cost for Jamsetganj had crossed Rs 1.10 crore. The expense of the Chalonia bridge was more than Rs 39 lakh above the sanctioned amount, the sabhadhipati said.

The leader of the ruling party in the zilla parishad, Purnendu Dey, said the contractors were pressuring them for the payment.

“But how can we pay them for schemes that had no sanctioned funds? We have made all these points clear in our complaint to the divisional commissioner. We have urged him to inquire into all other practices the former board had indulged in,” Dey said.

The Opposition leader in the zilla parishad, the CPM’s Mohammed Jalauddin Ahmed, claimed that his board had obtained the approval from the NBDC for the additional expenditures.

“But when the audit was done, the current board did not place the approval that we had got before the auditors. That is not our fault. It goes without saying that the charges are being levelled to malign us to gain political mileage,” Ahmed said.

Chairman of the NBDC and minister of state for civil defence Srikumar Mukherjee said: “Funds are sanctioned on gross estimates. If the costs escalate, the project executors have to get it approved.” Mukherjee said he would have to check the documents to see if the former board had taken approval for the excess expenditure.

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