The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Subhas cites Asim as roadblock

Calcutta, July 13: Subhas Chakraborty, in the eye of a storm following his open support for the transport lobby’s reluctance to follow emission norms, took on his own government today.

The trouble-pulling transport minister blamed sections of the CPM and its labour arm, the Citu, of throwing a spanner in projects he had lined up to improve travel facilities in the city.

Without naming Asim Dasgupta, Chakraborty said the finance ministry places the most hurdles on his. “Whenever I work out any project for development in the city’s transport sector and in other areas, the finance department turns it down on one plea or the other without assigning any reason. Besides, the finance department’s unnecessary intervention in my department’s work has delayed projects and made them complicated,’’ said Chakraborty.

Dasgupta refused to comment. He was at home on a Sunday and did not want to be “bothered about such things”.

The transport minister referred to the “ordeal” he has been going through. “Believe me, no other minister has to face so many hurdles. How can I prove my efficiency if I am not allowed to work independently' It is either the party or the Citu. Even ministers are coming in the way. Those who do not know the reality abuse without knowing that my hands are tied,’’ he said.

This was not the first time Chakraborty blasted the system of which he is a part. But the immediate provocation was probably the finance department’s move to stall his much-hyped scheme to lease out damaged state buses to unemployed youths.

According to the plan drawn up in 2002, dumped government buses were to be handed over to people who would carry out the necessary repairs at their own expense and ply them. The transport corporations would have collected a certain fees against each bus. Unemployed youths, former employees of the transport corporations and the physically challenged were supposed to be the benefactors.

Chakraborty said the scheme would help the corporations increase revenue without any investment. “Besides, commuters would benefit from the increased number of buses.”

Transport department officials said about 1,500 buses are gathering dust at different depots, of which more than a thousand can be made road-worthy again.

Dasgupta shot down the plan. The transport minister said this was not the only instance. Remodelling of the Esplanade bus terminus, introduction of helicopter services and re-alignment of tram services — none of his proposals was passed.

The CPM may not but a section of the Left Front agreed with Chakraborty. “He always takes up new projects for development,” said the RSP’s Kshiti Goswami. “There is no doubt that he is most dynamic. But his plans hardly see the light of day because of opposition from the government and the CPM,” said CPI’s Manju Kumar Majumdar.

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