New Delhi, March 10: The Centre has threatened states that it would stop funding and withdraw the amount already given along with interest if projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) are not finished on time.
Sources in the Bengal government said the Centre had allotted Rs 1,700 crore for 69 projects under JNNURM, of which Rs 158 crore has been released so far.
The sources in the state government and in the Union urban development ministry said “minimum progress” had been made in 13 of the projects even though all projects sanctioned last year under JNNURM in the first of its two phases have to be completed by March 2014. Some of the projects have earlier deadlines, as close as March this year.
“If these projects are not completed on time, the Bengal government will have to finance them on its own. It will also have to pay back Rs 158 crore along with an annual interest of 9.5 per cent,” a senior Union urban development ministry official said.
The decision, the official said, was taken at a meeting on February 26 chaired by Union urban development secretary Sudhir Krishna in Delhi and has been conveyed to all state governments.
The Bengal government is yet to produce utilisation certificates for any of the 13 projects for which money has been sanctioned. The utilisation document certifies that a state has exhausted the funds given to it.
“The Bengal government had got the projects sanctioned without any planning on the ground. Now, it will almost be impossible to complete the projects within a year. For example, only 4 per cent progress had been made till December on a water supply project in Asansol for which Rs 133 crore has been allotted. How does the government hope to finish it within a year?” a central official asked.
Bengal urban development secretary Debashis Sen, however, claimed the project was in “perfect shape”. “It would be wrong to say that no work has been done. I visited the site recently and work is progressing at good speed,” he said.
Sen said Bengal’s performance in terms of completion of projects was “far better” that other states. “If you check records, Bengal has completed 17 JNNURM projects, which is the highest in the country,” he said.
But according to the minutes of the meeting held in Delhi between Krishna and urban development secretaries of all states, Sen admitted that completing the projects by March next year would be “tough”. “Completion of all projects by January 2014 will be tough for West Bengal as a large number of projects have been sanctioned in 2012 March-end.”
Sources in the Bengal urban development department said progress in 15 of the 69 JNNURM-sanctioned schemes was between 0 and 2 per cent. Of the 69 projects, 11 were sanctioned during Mamata Banerjee’s tenure.
Two such projects are in Asansol — upgrade and strengthening of the road from Gammon Bridge to Gandhi More and four-laning of the road from Jubilee dhaba to SCOB gate. The deadline for the second project is March 2013.
In Sodepur on the northern fringes of Calcutta, work on a project for 24x7 water supply by Panihati municipality has progressed 1 per cent. The deadline is March 2014. Work on the cleaning and maintenance of the Upper Bagjola Canal in north Calcutta, too, had progressed 1 per cent only.