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Cong civic body slams govt for cash crunch

Nov. 15: The Congress chairman of Jalpaiguri municipality has alleged that the Trinamul state government has slashed funds being sent to the civic body in the last financial year.

Municipality chairman Mohan Bose said the funds crunch has adversely hit the Karala river clean-up plan and construction of houses for the poor, among other projects.

“During Left rule, we used to receive adequate funds from central schemes which are disbursed by the state government. The North Bengal Development Council and Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development authority also bore 70 to 90 per cent of the project cost when the Left was in power,” he said.

“After the Trinamul government took charge, the allocation came down drastically in the past two years,” Bose, who is also the president of the Jalpaiguri district Congress, said.

“Nowadays, we get 50 per cent of the total project cost at best. This is affecting the execution of our drainage plans, construction of houses in slum areas, road work, development of backward areas and the Karala Action Plan.”

Of the five main sources form where the Japlaiguri municipality gets its funds, two are central schemes — the Border Area Development Project and the Backward Region Grant Fund.

The grant from the Centre comes to the state, which disburses it to municipalitieas and government departments.

Bose said he has sought the intervention of north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb.

According to him, the civic body sent a detailed project report on the Karala Action Plan to the state government about a year ago.

“Everybody is aware of the need to clean the Karala, which flows through the town and turned poisonous two years ago,” Bose said.

He said the Trinamul government had reconstituted the North Bengal Development Council and the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA), removing Congress nominees.

“During the LF rule, I and the then Congress MLA of Jalpaiguri, D.P. Roy, were members of the SJDA. After the new government was formed, the SJDA was packed with only Trinamul leaders. There is no representative of the Jalpaiguri municipality in the SJDA, which was formed to work for the development of Siliguri and Jalpaiguri towns.”

Deb said the state government and its agencies were allocating funds to the Jalpaiguri municipality despite a financial crisis.

“The central departments concerned are delaying the transfer of funds to the state and that is why the civic bodies are not getting the amounts on time. We have nothing much to do in this regard. Whenever funds reach us, we will send them to the civic bodies.”