Calcutta, Oct. 16: The Assembly standing committee on planning and development has rapped the state government for the poor performance of the Uttarbanga Unayan Parshad, assigned to oversee development projects in the six districts of north Bengal.
The government constituted the agency in 2000 under the administrative control of the planning and development department to take up and implement comprehensive development projects in the six districts ' Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Malda, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur.
Planning and development minister Nirupam Sen said Rs 22 crore had been allotted to the council. Besides, a master plan is being prepared for socio-economic development of the region. 'We are serious about implementing development projects in the region in a comprehensive manner,' he said.
The committee, in its latest report, has identified weaknesses of the council and presented a 13-point recommendation list to get it in shape. (See chart)
'After examining the activities of the unnayan parshad in north Bengal districts, we find it necessary to activate the body by undertaking long-term and comprehensive development projects instead of implementing small sectoral schemes in isolation. We have given some suggestions to the government for overall development of north Bengal,' said Mostafa Bin Quasem, chairman of the standing committee and CPM MLA from Swarupnagar.
The committee observed that 'lack of effective monitoring mechanism had reduced the activities of the parshad, which delays implementation of schemes'
Moreover, it felt that though different government agencies are working for development of the six districts, but apparently 'there exists no clear guideline of mechanism to ensure co-ordination among them'.'
Nirbed Roy, a Trinamul Congress legislator and member of the standing committee, said the government appeared not too serious about implementing projects of the council. 'We have identified the weakness and loopholes of the parshad, but nothing has been done so far,' he said.
In its recommendations, the committee has also laid special emphasis on flood management and erosion-control measures, improvement of education, infrastructure development, healthcare services and employment generation schemes by setting up small-scale industries, particularly agro-based industries.
The committee has also decided to prioritise the need and demand of the poor, backward and under-developed sections of the society and act accordingly.
North Bengal University has prepared a 10-year perspective plan for the socio-economic development of the region with emphasis on thrust areas. The perspective plans include infrastructure development, improvement of health services, education, employment generation schemes and erosion control management.
'The university has submitted the proposal and we are preparing an action plan. This apart, Water and Power Consultancy Services, a central government undertaking, has prepared a master plan on flood management and erosion control. We are taking steps to implement it,' an official said.