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Area-specific growth plans

Siliguri, June 14: Gautam Deb today said there would be major changes in the way the North Bengal Development Council functioned and projects would be charted on the basis of requirements in each district.

“Since the formation of the council, the annual allocation has been low. Also, the approach towards the development was general and not need-based, even though the council was formed with the intention to bridge critical gaps in terms of infrastructure development in north Bengal,” said Gautam Deb, the minister for north Bengal development.

“We have augmented the funds and will finalise projects depending on the requirements of each district.”

The Mamata Banerjee government has given thrust to the development of north Bengal and has already released Rs 140 crore to the North Bengal Development Council to implement various projects.

The minister said once the council was reconstituted, a series of meetings will be held with MLAs, other people’s representatives and government officials to identify the areas of priority in each of the six districts in the region.

“We cannot allocate funds under broad heads like roads, irrigation and construction of buildings. Requirements of each district will be different. We will also seek suggestions from prominent people in the society before drafting an action plan and enlisting the projects to be executed by the council,” said Deb.

Sources in the council explained each district needed different projects to bridge the critical gaps in development. But till now, funds were sanctioned for a single project across the region, they said.

“For example, construction of roads may be a priority issue in North Dinajpur but Darjeeling might need new buildings for schools. What Jalpaiguri wants right now might be some flood shelters,” said a council official.“Instead of concentrating on the construction of roads across the region, the council will chart different projects for each of the six districts,” said a council official.

Deb said he would review all the projects being taken up by council and the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority. “We have passed on instructions to officials concerned to keep the documentation ready. We will review all these projects and will obtain experts’ opinion. If necessary, we might advocate certain changes.”

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