Hint at Centre plan dump

Calcutta: The Mamata Banerjee government is set to reject a recent central government proposal for infrastructure development of Maoist-affected zones because of inadequate allocation of funds.

According to a new scheme prepared by the Narendra Modi government, the Centre would allot Rs 1 crore to the Maoist-affected districts every year for development schemes. The amount would be Rs 2 crore for districts, which are critical in terms of Maoist problem.

"The amount being offered under the scheme is too small to undertake development projects... There is no possibility of Bengal being part of the project," said an official.

Bengal has five Maoist affected districts - Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore, Jhargram and Birbhum - out of a total of 106 Maoist-affected districts in the country.

"As none of the districts in Bengal is critical, we will get Rs 1 crore for each district in a year. The state has to give 40 per cent matching grant for the funds released by the Centre. It is too small to spend our energy to prepare schemes, monitor projects and send utilisation certificates for the funds," said an official.

Although senior government officials are not satisfied with the project details sent to Nabanna recently, the state government has not yet sent any rejection letter. Sources said the letter could be sent soon after the top brass of the government hold a discussion over the state's response on the issue.

According to sources, fortification of police stations, modernisation of forces, deployment of additional forces, training of the forces deployed in the area and development projects could be undertaken with the funds under the scheme.

"The state government spends more than Rs 50 crore for each of the districts known for Maoist activities since the change of regime in 2011. I don't think we should waste our energy in getting funds under the scheme," said a minister.

He explained why the state government was considering the scheme to be useless.

"A sum of Rs 55 lakh is spent to lay a km of rural road under the PMGSY scheme. So, a sum of Rs 1 crore for a district would not help us anyway," the minister added.

According sources at Nabanna, the UPA government was more rational in allotting funds for development in Maoist-affected areas.

"There was a scheme called Integrated Action Plan (IAP) during the UPA tenure... The state used to get on an average Rs 15 crore for each Maoist-affected district in a year. That was much more rational," said an official.

Sources said if the state government refused to participate in the scheme, it would send a message to the Centre.

"I think the Centre should reconsider the scheme... It would be good if Bengal becomes the first state to raise voice over the scheme," said a source.


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