While Bengal cribs about lack of Central funds,the mega amount it got for projects for the urban poor is still unused
While the Left Front governments alleges it is being deprived of the central funds for the urban development projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM),the Rs 177 crore it received a year ago for slum development projects under the scheme have remained unused.
On January 30 this year,the Centre has again sanctioned Rs 321 crore for more slum development projects.
Of the total of Rs 500 crore meant for the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) projects under the JNNURM scheme in the city,the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has been able to only spend Rs 60 crore as part of the project in two places -Garden Reach and Rajarhat. The rest of the amount remains unused though the time span of a year for executing the Rs 177 crore slum development projects has ended a month ago.
At four other places that are earmarked for the slum development projects Hatgachia,Kacharipara,Jalpara and Anandanagar land issues and politics have held up work. Some of these roadblocks have been put up by the CPM leaders themselves.
For instance,around four acres of land earmarked for a BSUP project in Anandanagar (ward 59) on the eastern fringes of the city have been captured by a private construction company for setting up its storehouse. According to a civic official,the company is not paying any rent to the KMC and has not taken any official permission from the civic authorities.
Snehanshu Roy,the local CPM councilor,seemed clueless. The company was not getting any place to store construction material. I allowed them to set up a storehouse there as they are working for the KMC. They have asked for 33 months for keeping the storehouse there. Almost 15 months have passed and they need 18 months more. After the company leaves the land,the project work can start easily, he said.
In other places including Hatgachia,Jalpara and Kacharipara on the city fringes,there are illegal occupants who are not ready to leave the lands claiming they have been settled there by the local councillors who are mostly CPM leaders.
The Rs 321-crore projects include four integrated housing project for slum-dwellers in Topsia (ward 59) on the eastern fringe of the city,Pagladanga (ward 57),Canal South Road and Behala Banerjee Colony (ward127).
The housing complexes include 12-storied buildings with all modern facilities including lifts,central ramps for carrying old and disable persons,overhead water reservoirs and latest fire-fighting measures. Around 4936 dwelling units will be constructed under the project.
We will try to issue work orders for Rs 321 crore projects in 10 days. And we are also trying to end our pending projects under JNNURM. We can prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) and get the money sanctioned under the JNNURM scheme. But for starting the work,we have to depend on our political leaders and our hands are tied there, said a senior civic official on condition of anonymity.
Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya blamed the Opposition for the delay in executing the projects resulting in a huge cost escalation. All the projects will be on the KMC land only. But there are some forces opposing any developmental project in the city. We are trying to execute all the projects as soon as possible, he said.