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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

State eyes proper use of rural road funds

Nabanna initiates steps for foolproof utilisation of PMGSY grants to avert conflicts with Delhi

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 23.11.22, 03:58 AM
Narendra Modi government released a sum of Rs 343 crore under the scheme to upgrade 144 rural roads in the state.

Narendra Modi government released a sum of Rs 343 crore under the scheme to upgrade 144 rural roads in the state. File Picture

The Mamata Banerjee administration has initiated a series of measures for foolproof utilisation of funds that the Union government is likely to allot under the PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana) scheme over the next two-and-a-half years.

The move is being seen as part of an apparent attempt by Nabanna to reduce the possibility of conflicts with Delhi on the spending of central grants in Bengal.

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Recently, the Narendra Modi government released a sum of Rs 343 crore under the scheme to upgrade 144 rural roads in the state. This is the first time since April that the Centre is releasing funds under the scheme after the flow stopped following complaints that the project was implemented in the state as Bangla Gram Sadak Yojana.

“The panchayat department has taken some precautionary measures to ensure that no complaint of irregularity comes up during the implementation of the scheme. The department has learnt a lesson from the 100-day job scheme, for which the Centre stopped the release of funds alleging irregularities in the utilisation,” said a senior Nabanna official.

Sources in the state administration said proper implementation of the scheme was very important as Bengal was expecting the release of at least Rs 5,000 crore for the upgrade of around 6,000km of rural roads by 2025. “The state does not want a repetition of MGNREGS here. This particular fund is very important for the development of rural infrastructure across the state,” a bureaucrat said. Sources said the panchayat department had decided to undertake the tendering process of the PMGSY schemes from its headquarters at Salt Lake. The earlier practice was to hold the tendering process at district levels.

“This will ensure transparency in selecting the agencies. It has been found that many ineligible agencies were given work orders from district headquarters. As a result, some questions were raised on the quality of the work,” said a senior official.

This apart, the panchayat department has also made it clear that all tenders worth Rs 1 lakh and above have to be done through e-tendering process as part of an attempt to reduce the possibility of contractors close to panchayat functionaries getting the work.

Moreover, it has also been decided to scan the papers of all agencies before awarding the work order.

“This initiative has been taken after it was found that some of the agencies were carrying out rural development projects with forged papers. As some of these agencies didn’t have the requisite experience to carry out the projects, the quality of the work was not up to the mark. The department has already blacklisted 100-odd such agencies,” said a bureaucrat.

The panchayat department has also decided to strengthen the monitoring and verification system during the implementation of the projects.

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