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Welfare warts in Bengal

Calcutta, Jan. 17: A survey conducted by the Bengal government has brought to light several loopholes in the development programmes undertaken for Jungle Mahal.

Chief secretary Sanjay Mitra has forwarded the report to the departments concerned for “appropriate” steps.

The report has mentioned that in a significant number of villages, wells are the only source of drinking water. The survey team had visited 35 Jungle Mahal villages and found that only 23 had tubewells.

“Villages having only wells as the source of drinking water cannot be considered to be free from drinking water problems… these dugwells are only 40-50 feet deep and dry up easily during the summer. Water contamination cannot be ruled out,” the report says.

The report also mentions that the Maoist-infested blocks of Bankura and Purulia are suffering from drinking water “insecurity”.

The report suggests that the situation can be improved by installing Mark-II tubewells with a submersible pump of 1HP and a community tank.

The report points at loopholes in the NREGA. The average man-days generated per household in Jungle Mahal is 24 days — lower than last fiscal’s state average of 33 days.

According to the estimate of the report, a family of five earns Rs 3,264 a year through NREGA. But it spends Rs 1,040 a year to buy subsidised rice. A family has to manage other requirements with the remaining Rs 2,224.

The report recommends that the state take initiatives to give more than one job card to a family.

Senior officials said the state had already started “plugging” the loopholes. “The public health engineering department has started pipeline-based water supply projects in Purulia and Bankura. The panchayat department has taken initiatives to generate more man-days in Jungle Mahal,” a senior official said.