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Cong plea for post fill-up

Siliguri, Dec. 27: Congress leaders of Jalpaiguri district have written to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asking him to fill the post of the vice-chairman of North Bengal Development Council.

The move precedes a meeting of the council slated on December 30 to be attended by Bhattacharjee. Several plans and proposals like sanctioning of funds for Himul and scrutiny of ongoing projects will be discussed then.

“We feel the activities of council would be expedited if a vice-chairman is appointed immediately,” said Subhas Bakshi, the general secretary of the Jalpaiguri district Congress committee. “The chief minister is a busy man and has other responsibilities. It is difficult for him to find time for the council. We want him to take the initiative to select the vice-chairman from the existing members who are from different north Bengal districts.”

Veteran Forward Bloc leader Kamal Guha was the last vice-chairman of the council. Since his demise, the post has been lying vacant.

The pathetic staff strength of the council too would be brought to the notice of the chief minister who had assured an expansion of the body and recruitment of experts to speed up the development process in north Bengal.

The low allocation of funds — the council has received only Rs 15 crore of the Rs 50 crore so far —especially when only three months of the current financial year are left, would be raised in the meeting as well.

“The funds lying with us will be utilised in 325 schemes spread over the six north Bengal districts,” said B.L. Meena, the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri and the member-secretary of the council.

These include 58 projects in Cooch Behar, 88 in Jalpaiguri, 25 in Darjeeling, 48 in North Dinajpur, 36 in South Dinajpur and 70 in Malda.

“They are mostly road, irrigation, public health and drinking water schemes and construction of embankments,” Meena added.

But projects worth Rs 24 crore are lying with the council for which there is no funds. These include the re-construction of a bridge at Domohona in North Dinajpur that had collapsed a few months ago.

“There are 22 more proposals from the districts. All of these are big projects with estimated costs of Rs 1 crore each,” Meena said. “We will, however, get money from Nabard to execute these proposals.”

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