Aiming to complete its central government-backed rural development projects before the Assembly polls next year, West Bengal government has written to World Bank for a soft loan of Rs 4,000 crore even as it complained of a delay in release of funds by New Delhi.
“Yes, we have written to World Bank. Rural development projects are stuck due to delay by the Centre in releasing funds. Because of that, the projects are suffering,” State Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee said. “We have planned to complete the unfinished projects before next year's polls. These are long-pending projects which need to be finished without further delay,” he added.
He claimed that Bengal is yet to receive Rs 5,000 crore out of its legitimate dues for these centrally-financed schemes.
Asked how the loan, if granted, would be used, Mukherjee said, “We are planning to use it to clear unpaid wages under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGREGA) and also use it on the rural housing scheme Indira Awaas Yojana, Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana and the rural-road networking project under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.” The loan would help the TMC government complete projects in around 3,500 villages, quite a few of which lie in the tribal Jangalmahal districts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore, he added.
The minister, however, refused to comment on whether the loan appeal to World Bank had been lined up keeping in mind next year's Assembly elections.
“That West Bengal has been deprived of its legitimate dues is very much true and that is not a new thing. We are only trying to complete these projects, which shows our serious intent about the development of the rural areas of the state,” he said.