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Poll push to projects

Calcutta, Dec. 11: The state government has asked all departments to file by December 31 reports on the status of projects approved by the cabinet, the move aimed at ensuring their completion before the Lok Sabha elections next years.

After the reports are filed, chief secretary Sanjay Mitra will discuss with the departments the progress of projects being implemented by each.

Senior government officials said the decision to review the projects approved by the cabinet since May 2012 was taken as chief minister Mamata Banerjee wanted the majority of them to be completed before the Lok Sabha polls.

“That is why the last-minute push was planned,” an official said.

A letter sent by the chief secretary to all departments seeks to know the exact status of each project.

“Specific timelines and exact status of the action required to be taken in pursuance of the cabinet decision may kindly be indicated…. For example, it might be better to indicate the specific stage of land acquisition proceedings instead of mentioning that land acquisition has started.”

The officials said top bureaucrats would assess the targets set by the departments for the completion of the projects rather than merely relying on reports. “This is unusual in Bengal,” a senior official said.

The chief secretary and other senior officials will tell the departments how much more time they can take to complete the schemes. When the cabinet had approved the projects, no deadline had been set.

The senior officials said the chief minister had expressed dissatisfaction at the tardy progress of several projects.

“For example, within a year of coming to power, the Trinamul government had announced it would set up ITIs in every block. But in the past two-and-a-half years, only 29 ITIs have been built. As many as 139 blocks still don’t have ITIs,” an official said.

A state minister said Mamata believed that three years were enough to complete such projects.

“Several bridges, roads, schools and colleges were supposed to be set up before the Lok Sabha polls. But many of them could not be completed. What will we tell people if they ask us about these projects before the crucial Lok Sabha polls?” the minister said.

An official said availability of funds should not be a hindrance to completing the projects.

“Earlier, the government used to release the yearly funds allotted to departments in four instalments of 25 per cent each. But from this year, the government has started releasing 75 per cent of the allotted funds at the beginning of the financial year. So, the departments have a considerable amount of funds in their possession,” he said.