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No work on Lalgarh road

Netai, Dec. 26: Work to repair a 6km road in Lalgarh’s Netai, where eight persons were killed last year in firing from a CPM leader’s home, is yet to start one-and-a-half years after chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the stretch would be metalled.

At a rally in Jhargram on July 12, 2011, her first visit to Maoist-affected Jungle Mahal as chief minister, Mamata had said the moram road, which is dusty in summer and muddy in monsoon, would be metalled.

A few days after the announcement, a signboard was put up in the area detailing the kind of road that would be constructed between Baghakuli and Dayintikri in Netai under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

“So far, we have got only the signboard. Work for the road is yet to begin,” said Janata Adak, the 20-year-old daughter of Gitali, who died in the Netai firing.

“The signboard talks about 187 trucks of laterite soil and 71 trucks of sand. But not a single such truck has come to this area since the chief minister’s announcement,” Janata added.

District officials cited lack of bidders during the tendering process.

During the chief minister’s public meeting in Lalgarh in August this year, Janata had openly countered Mamata’s claim that work on the Netai road had almost been completed. Janata had stood up and shouted out that there had been no ground-level implementation of the chief minister’s promise.

Mamata had called Janata to the dais, where she had told the chief minister that construction of the metalled road was yet to begin.

Mamata had asked district magistrate Surendra Gupta why the road had not been laid yet. Gupta had told her the work would start soon.

“Four months have passed since the day but work is yet to begin. We don’t see any hope of the road being laid. We will have to take the dusty road again next summer,” Janata said.

Abhijit Samanta, the block development officer of Lalgarh, said today that work would begin soon. “The Centre has sanctioned Rs 4.58 lakh,” Samanta added.

Another official said tenders had been floated three times for the Rs 5-crore project but the contract could not be granted as only one company showed interest every time.

“It is a big project and the tenders were floated by the panchayat and rural development department three times. But each time, we got the response of only one contractor. That is why the tender could not be awarded. The state government will now execute the work. Work will begin soon,” the official said.

During his visit to Lalgarh on December 8, Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh had expressed his concern over the “misuse” of central funds by the state government for work in backward districts, including West Midnapore.

On the sidelines of a rally on that day, Ramesh had said: “Central ministers and the audit department will keep a watch on whether the state is using central funds for the projects for which money has been granted.”