Centre to hike Bengal plan outlay

Amid fractious relations between the Congress and Trinamool Congress,the Centre is likely to approve West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s demand for an increased annual plan outlay for her state. The move is being pegged as an attempted thaw in the equation between the two UPA allies

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Published: April 10, 2012 3:23 am

Amid fractious relations between the Congress and Trinamool Congress,the Centre is likely to approve West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s demand for an increased annual plan outlay for her state. The move is being pegged as an attempted thaw in the equation between the two UPA allies.

Mamata is meeting Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia here on Tuesday and both will arrive at a figure — expected to be Rs 24,800 crore — which is more than last year’s outlay of around Rs 22,000 crore. The allocation is understood to be spread over seven key sectors.

Ahead of the meeting,30 secretary-level officers and state ministers,including Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Planning Minister Manish Gupta,met Planning Commission officials on Monday in marathon discussions over sector-wise allocations. Mamata arrived here on Monday evening.

Political circles saw the development as an olive branch from the Centre to the Trinamool supremo ahead of the Presidential election in July.

According to sources,Bengal has sought 50-53 per cent allocation for social sector projects,while the rest are aimed at special works for troubled/ economically backward areas (Junglemahal,Darjeeling,the Sunderbans) and rural development schemes. Mamata is understood to have pressed for including more areas as “backward regions”,entitled for special Central funds.

Bengal officials told the Planning Commission that the state loses Rs 22,000 crore annually to service its long-pending loans amounting to around Rs 2.3 lakh crore — the highest in the country.

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