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State to seek Rs 8000 crore

Calcutta, July 11: The Bengal government will write to the Centre demanding the “immediate release” of “due funds” to the tune of Rs 8,000 crore for projects in rural areas.

Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee told a news conference at Trinamul Bhavan in Kasba today that the funds would be required for ongoing projects such as construction of rural roads and for the payment of beneficiaries under the 100-day job scheme.

“We have been demanding the release of funds for ongoing rural development projects. We have not been able to complete many projects for lack of funds. I will write to the Union rural development ministry next week. There is a conspiracy to hurt us,” Mukherjee said. “Several projects are lying incomplete as we have not been able to pay contractors,” he added.

The panchayat minister said the state government had paid from its own coffers to continue some of the schemes.

Criticising the Union budget, Mukherjee said the Centre had ignored the needs of rural India.

“Allocations for all projects (for rural areas) have been curtailed. Rural development will be hit badly by the Centre’s proposals. Funds allocated for schemes can only be utilised for pilot projects,” the panchayat minister said.

Referring to the Centre’s plan to construct 8,000km of rural roads in the country this fiscal, Mukherjee said that in Bengal alone, 12,000km of such roads were being laid.

“The hike in the allocation for the 100-day rural job scheme is only Rs 1,000 crore. This is not going to be enough since Bengal alone would need an additional Rs 2,500 crore this year,” the minister said.

Mukherjee also criticised the Centre’s decision to create an Allahabad-Haldia waterway for commercial navigation on the Ganga. “Calcutta port is dead and Haldia port is dying. Unless steps are taken to revive them, the plan will not succeed,” he said.