Centre’s delay in releasing funds stalls projects at Chitmahal
The Centre’s step-motherly attitude to release fund despite repeated requests for the development of the 51 enclaves of Chitmahal has slowed down the projects taken up by the state government.
The Modi government is yet to clear Rs 445.31 crore which the state government has sought. The letter stating the present requirement of the amount was sent in August 2016.
In the past five months, Ministry of Home Affairs over and again put forward various “unusual excuses” to delay the release of the fund, said an official of the state home department adding: “The Centre releases fund of the additional Central assistance for Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) against the progress report of the work that was carried out utilising the fund released earlier. But when the matter of the development of Chitmahal comes, they are not releasing the demanded fund against the usual progress report that we sent for any other Central government funded project. As a result, the projects are getting delayed unnecessarily and we shouldn’t forget that acquisition of land is a major component of the projects, which is a quite time consuming task.”
According to state secretariat sources, the Centre had assured Rs 1,005 crore and sanctioned eight different projects including setting of a bridge, construction of roads and permanent houses for 14,854 people which became Indian citizen with 51 enclaves of chitmahal coming within the country’s jurisdiction in July 2015. The Centre had given only Rs 140 crore in two phases by March 31, 2016. A major part of the money was utilised for different projects including acquisition of some land, providing temporary shelter to the people of the 51 enclaves, to undertake work to supply power and construction of road.
“Following the usual procedure, the progress report utilising the money was sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Subsequently, the state government placed the requirement for Rs 445.31 crore in August 2016. Instead of releasing the fund, they have sought the “detailed progress report” saying that “progress report” was not sufficient. We have sent the “detailed progress report” covering all the required point as asked by them (the Centre) and now they are asking for the “utilisation report” as per their pro-forma. We are waiting for their letter seeking report as per their pro-forma, but got the information over a telephonic conversation,” the official said adding that they will follow all directions of the Centre, but what more should they provide if they have to send another report as they have already given all the relevant and required documents.
More importantly, the state government sanctioned projects worth Rs 750 crore by November 2016, which suggests that the work of all these projects have already started. But the Centre had provided only Rs 140 crore, that too 10 months ago, the official said.
Hinting that the delay is “politically motivated”, a political analyst mentioned that the delay is resulting to the pain of the dwellers of 51 enclaves in Cooch Behar who are now the citizens of India. The state government is trying their level best to give respite to the people by implementing the projects as much as possible but it cannot be continued for long if the Centre didn’t release the money.