regular-article-logo Tuesday, 30 May 2023

TMC pradhan to refund cash for ‘invisible’ ponds

Jyotsna Barman, has been directed to return Rs 4.17 lakh to block administration, based on complaint by her party colleague

Kousik Sen Raiganj Published 20.03.23, 05:34 AM
Jagadishpur II panchayat in Raiganj block

Jagadishpur II panchayat in Raiganj block Kousik Sen

The head of a Trinamul-run panchayat in North Dinajpur, who is also the wife of a junior minister of the state, has been asked to refund over Rs 4 lakh to the block administration which she spent to “dig” three ponds.

None of those ponds was found during field visits.


Jyotsna Barman, the pradhan of Jagadishpur panchayat in Raiganj block, and wife of minister of state for education Satyajit Barman, has been directed to return Rs 4.17 lakh to the block administration, based on a complaint by her party colleague.

Mehetab Ali, the president of Trinamul’s minority cell in the panchayat, filed a complaint with the district administration that Jyotsna withdrew Rs 22 lakh from the MGNREGS fund.

“The fund was for the 100- days work scheme to get 21 ponds dug. Not one pond was dug but the entire sum was withdrawn,” said Ali.

He said when the administration didn’t act, he moved Calcutta High Court. The court ordered the administration to conduct a probe and file a report.

“Based on the report, the court directed the pradhan to refund the money and the administration issued her the order,” Ali added.

Ali pointed out that the letter spoke about the three ponds and asked for a refund of Rs 4,17,742.

“I am not satisfied with it. I want the administration to find out if the remaining 19 ponds were dug,” he said.

Satyajit, the Trinamul MLA of Hemtabad in the district, came up with an interesting clarification to back his wife.

“The locations where the ponds were dug were close to a river. It is a flood-prone area. After ponds were dug in 2020, those got filled with silt and sand as the river flooded its banks in monsoons. The charge is nothing but an attempt to tarnish us,” he said.

He claimed Ali was not associated with Trinamul.

Jyotsna said: “I am the elected head of the panchayat but it is not my job to assess the jobs. It is done by employees. Based on their reports, I sign. I will consult with legal experts. If money has to be refunded, it will be done.”

Raiganj BDO Subhajit Mondal confirmed the pradhan was asked to refund the cash.

The BJP and Congress have reacted sharply. “The administration has asked for a refund of what only seems to be a part of the stolen fund,” said Mohit Sengupta, district Congress chief.

“The pradhan should face legal steps for corruption,” said district BJP president Basudeb Sarkar.

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