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Jairam assures road aid

- Help despite ‘intemperate verbal onslaughts’

New Delhi, Sept. 27: Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has promised that his ministry would continue to support projects in Bengal despite Trinamul’s “intemperate verbal onslaughts” on the central government.

Ramesh’s ministry today reviewed proposals submitted by the state government for new road projects and upgrading existing roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

The Union minister wrote to Subrata Mukherjee, assuring his Bengal counterpart that his ministry would clear road projects worth Rs 3,576 crore for the state within a month.

“I wish to assure you that, in spite of recent political developments and in spite of the continued and intemperate verbal onslaughts on the leadership of the central government being made from Kolkata, the Union ministry of rural development will continue to support programmes and projects for the benefit of the people of West Bengal,” said the letter accessed by The Telegraph.

The letter assumes significance in the backdrop of the chill in relations between the Bengal government and the Centre since Trinamul withdrew support to the Congress-led central coalition.

A pre-empowered committee considered proposals worth Rs 1,558 crore for 2,622km of new connectivity covering 892 habitations with a population of more than 500 in 15 non-IAP (Integrated Action Plan) districts.

In addition, the three IAP (Maoist-affected) districts — West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia — would get 1,586km of new connectivity. The Rs 914-crore plan is also for areas with over 500 residents.

These three districts will also get an additional 1,012km of new connectivity at a cost of Rs 579 crore for habitations where the population is between 250 and 499.

The proposals also include upgrading 350 existing roads with a length of 841km in 14 non-IAP districts at a cost of Rs 524 crore.

These projects have to be approved by the empowered committee, which is likely to meet next month. Differences over the cost of upgrading every kilometre have to be resolved too.

“There is a lot more that the PMGSY can do under upgradation for West Bengal provided the state government takes (the) initiative,” the letter said.

Bengal stands to get 11,375km of roads upgraded under the PMGSY scheme. The Centre has already given sanction for upgrading about 1,000km so far.