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Centre-state spat: Construction of rural roads in 5 districts stalled

Centre-state spat: Construction of rural roads in 5 districts stalled
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Development of rural roads in five districts under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has been badly hit after the ministry of Rural Development has put the (Detailed Project Report) DPR for five districts on hold.

The affected districts are Alipurduar, Uttar Dinajpur, Malda, Howrah and North 24 Parganas.

The state Panchayat and Rural Development department had submitted DPR for the construction of rural roads covering around 4,500 km in 2016.

The ministry gave clearance to construct 3,055 km and refused to give nod for laying off the remaining 1,448 km stretch spread across these five districts. The ministry, in the letter to the state, mentioned that the DPRs for these districts need a careful scrutiny and the cost of construction shown seems to be quite high.

However, in the two successive meetings held in New Delhi to discuss the clearance to the DPRs which was attended by senior officials of the department including additional Chief Secretary Sourav Das, the ministry did not raise any objection.

A study of the estimated cost given by the Panchayat and Rural development department shows that the amount quoted in the DPRs for all these districts are less than the amount quoted earlier.

In Malda, the rate quoted for construction of a kilometre in the DPR is Rs 50.53 lakh against the earlier rate of Rs 52.55 lakh. Similarly in Howrah, the estimated cost for a kilometre road is Rs 57.10 lakh against the earlier rate of Rs 63.70 lakh.

In Uttar Dinajpur, the estimated cost of a kilometre road is Rs 55.08 lakh as against Rs 58.35 lakh earlier.

The ministry, however, did not specify as to when the clearance to construct 1,448 km road would be allowed.

"If the money is not released

immediately it would affect construction of rural roads," senior state government officials said.

It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had over and again alleged the curtailment of funds meant for various projects by the Centre.

In PMGSY, the Centre gives money to the state in 60:40 ratio of the cost and also looks after their maintenance.

However, now, the maintenance of the roads has become the responsibility of the state government.

Thus, it has to spend more money for the maintenance of rural roads.

It is because of the curtailment of funds that Subrata Mukherjee, minister for Panchayat and Rural Development department, had demanded that the PMGSY should be renamed as Pradhan Mantri Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak Yojna.

Political experts, however, felt that "the decision to scrutinise the DPRs in five districts is a mere ploy because in these regions, the BJP is trying to consolidate its organisation.

As the Panchayat elections will be held next year, the BJP will try to stall development works in these districts and campaign against the Trinamool Congress."

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