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Push to end projects by March
Before CM visit, funds and scurry to finish Left schemes

, Gautam Deb

Calcutta, Jan. 27: The chief minister today pushed for completion of projects in north Bengal started by the Left government within this financial year while injecting fresh funds into the health and tourism sectors.

The government announcement, which also includes Rs 10 crore for healthcare upgrade and Rs 5.2 crore for modern tourist facilities, comes ahead of Mamata Banerjee’s visit to the region next month.

During a meeting of North Bengal Development Council, the chief minister asked Gautam Deb — the chairperson of the body — to take necessary steps so that projects neglected by the earlier government could be completed by March 31.

Deb, who is also the north Bengal development minister, said since 2004-2005 a total of 341 projects, which include approach roads, culverts, school and college buildings, were taken up by the Left Front government. “But none of these projects could be completed as the Left government never tried to finish these on time. We have asked the district magistrates to complete the projects within March 31,” he said.

The minister said the Left government had started work on only 228 projects. “We have sanctioned Rs 10 crore to complete them by March 31. The district authorities, who already have Rs 48.67 crore, have told us that the majority of the schemes will end by this financial year. But some are likely to be completed by the end of May,” the minister added. The government will hold a meeting soon to discuss the rest of the Left projects that never took off.

Deb also said Rs 5.2 crore has been sanctioned to set up modern tourist facilities in Jaldhaka and Murti in the Dooars.

“The funds have already been sanctioned. We have plans to set up modern cottages and tents in Murti and Jaldhaka,” said Deb.

This apart, the state government has decided to renovate two tourist lodges in Kalimpong. One of them, Morgan House, is run by the tourism department.

The other, Hill Top Tourist Lodge, is under the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. The minister said once the tourism department submitted the detailed project report to his department, the funds would be released.

Deb’s department will also sanction Rs 10 crore to upgrade health care facilities. A major portion of the funds would be spent to buy modern equipment for district and block level hospitals.

The minister also said detailed project reports for more than 40 new schemes have been submitted.

“Funds for these projects would be made available and tenders will be floated soon,” said Deb.

The chief minister is scheduled to inaugurate the week-long North Bengal Utsav on February 10 in Siliguri. The main goal of the festival is to project the cultural heritage of the north Bengal districts, Deb said.