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Jungle Mahal home plan hits a wall

- CPM cites Trinamul terror, Maoist menace and high material prices

Midnapore, Jan. 1: Only 40 per cent of funds granted under the Indira Awaas Yojana for West Mindapore’s Jungle Mahal could be spent so far in this fiscal.

So, the chances of getting central funds to build houses under the scheme in the 2012-13 have become thin, district sources said.

The funds are given to panchayats, which execute the projects. But because of the Maoist menace and later, alleged strong-arm tactics of Trinamul, the CPM panchayats complained they could not function normally.

The funds could not be spent mostly by the CPM-run panchayats in 11 of the district’s 19 blocks. The CPM controls most panchayats in Jungle Mahal.

Another reason, district officials said, was the increasing prices of construction materials.

Each beneficiary is given Rs 48,500 to build a house, of which 50 per cent is given in advance. The other half is given only after the completion of construction.

But many of the beneficiaries could not complete the work because of increasing prices of materials.

“We cannot sanction the full amount. If we do so, we will be accused of flouting central regulations,” a senior official said.

Sources said the Centre had sanctioned Rs 54.87 crore in the 2011-12 financial year for 19 blocks in West Midnapore’s Jungle Mahal. But the authorities could spend only Rs 22.03 crore, leaving over Rs 32 crore unspent.

On average, each block has 12 gram panchayats.

The sabhadhipati of the CPM-run zilla parishad, Antara Bhattacharya, said only 8,000 of the 22,235 houses targeted had been built so far.

Bhattacharya alleged that the CPM-run panchayats could not work in at least eight Jungle Mahal blocks in places such as Keshpur, Garbeta, Sabang, Pingla, Dantan II and Debra.

She said most gram panchayat members fled their homes because of “Trinamul terror”.

“The Trinamul government is not allowing the CPM-run panchayats to work,” Bhattacharya said.

District Trinamul president Dinen Roy said: “The CPM-run panchayats have failed to perform. Now, they are blaming Trinamul.”