West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accused the Centre of preventing the state from “implementing people-friendly projects” by making “sharp changes in the pattern of funding” and “withdrawal of Central funding”. The chief minister made the charge in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Between April and August, Banerjee has written three letters to PM Modi, stressing on the manner in which alteration to the funding pattern of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) had led to “financial and social development disaster”.
In the most recent letter, dated August 10, Mamata noted that the sub-group of the chief ministers had submitted its report on the rationalisation of 66 Centrally-sponsored schemes. She also asked the Centre to ensure that states were provided “opportunities” to “share their concerns.”
“It would be in the fitness of things to convene a meeting of NITI Aayog to provide opportunities to the states to share their concerns. I would suggest that the discussion on the structure and financing of the Centrally-sponsored schemes may be held in a meeting of NITI Aayog to be convened after giving adequate notice time for preparation by the states,” she wrote.
In the first of the three letters, dated April 24, Mamata had expressed her “deep concern” regarding the “unilateral decision of the Centee to restructure the Central-sponsored schemes / Central sector schemes” wherein the “state share has been drastically increased by reducing the Central share”.
“In my view, it goes against the very spirit of ‘cooperative federalism’ which is constantly being emphasised by the Centre,” she added.
In the letter that followed on May 9, she once again reiterated that “social sector schemes” constituted the “basic foundation development for the downtrodden and the economically weaker sections of the society” and that the “the recent decision of the Centre to reduce/withdraw the Central funding for major Centrally-sponsored schemes has adversely affected them”.
In the same letter, she also made a case for giving the state a “complete debt waiver for it to escape from the debt trap”.