Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has made it to the Bottom 10 among city MLAs in terms of utilising the annual allocations for constituency development since 2005-06.
The chief minister, often praised for being frugal in his personal life, has utilised only half the money sanctioned for Jadavpur constituency since his government took charge, according to a report compiled by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).
His ministry colleague Manab Mukherjee, allegedly not so frugal when it comes to personal expenses, has been far more tightfisted than his chief minister when it comes to public spending.
Mukherjee hadn’t utilised a rupee out of the amount meant for the development of his Beleghata constituency till February 25 this year, says the CMC report card.
Legislators are sanctioned Rs 50 lakh annually, which can be carried forward till the fourth year of their term. “That means the amounts which the city MLAs left unutilised since 2005 have been forfeited,” an official said.
Only nine of the 26 MLAs representing the city cracked the 100 per cent utilisation target. It will hurt the CPM that five of the names are from Team Mamata Banerjee rather than Team Bhattacharjee.
The only two from the CPM in that list are information technology minister Debesh Das and Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim.
“To me, it doesn’t appear to be a remarkable achievement. The money was meant for utilisation and it has been utilised,” Das told Metro.
Some MLAs blamed “impractical spending norms” for their failure to utilise the money sanctioned by the development and planning department under the Bidhayak Elaka Unnayan Programme for local area uplift.
“I think my utilisation of the fund is not zero,” claimed Manab Mukherjee, the minister for small-scale industry.
“The rules have to be amended again for money to be judiciously spent on the development of constituencies,” he argued.
Legislators would earlier sanction money to clubs and NGOs to purchase ambulances or hearses. Schools would get money to add rooms or buy teaching aids.
The rules were amended last year, barring MLAs from allotting money from the fund to any school, club, NGO or library that operated out of premises that did not belong to them.
Some restrictions were also clamped on the distribution of sports equipment among clubs.
“Those who have framed the rules lack practical knowledge,” agreed rebel Trinamul legislator Sadhan Pande, who spent only 32.43 per cent of his allocation.
“Our report on utilisation of money by MLAs was compiled on the basis of the work orders received and implemented by us till February 25,” said Debasish Chakraborty, the deputy chief engineer of the civic body’s local area development wing.
The CMC, which was made the nodal agency for implementation of schemes last year, is required to submit a detailed utilisation report to the planning and development department.
“I am glad the money sanctioned for my constituency has been utilised. I did not waste time and used the money to buy ambulances and hearses for eligible clubs and NGOs and books for libraries and schools,” said Aroop Biswas of Trinamul Congress.
The Congress topped the party-wise performance, with two of them — Sudip Bandopadhyay and Ram Pyare Ram — touching 100 per cent utilisation.