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1 Jun 2018

Fund leash on hill boards

Mamata at the administrative meeting in Kalimpong on Wednesday.
Picture by Passang Yolmo
Vivek Chhetri, TT, May 31, 2018, Kalimpong: Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday virtually tightened the screws on the functioning of the 15 cultural development boards in the hills, directing them to credit the house building funds to beneficiaries, the policy change clearly suggesting that the chief minister is seized about the ground realities.

The chief minister had on Tuesday announced a sum of Rs 96 crore for the 15 development boards in the hills and had asked them to careful of the finances of the bodies.

During an administrative review meeting held at Jarvie Hall at Dr Graham's Homes in Kalimpong, Mamata directly addressed the board chairpersons who were present at the meeting.

"There are some complaints. It will be better if the money is transferred directly to the beneficiaries. Give them half of the money and after inspecting the progress of work, the remaining can be released," said Mamata.

Many of the boards are known to give only a portion of the funds to the beneficiaries while the board themselves distribute the building materials. Each house is built at a cost of around Rs 2 lakh.

A chairperson of a hill board had earlier maintained that their board was distributing materials, including bricks, cement and roof tins, to ensure "uniformity and quality" of materials. "Or else, the money might be misused," a chairperson had earlier said.

However, this mode of operation itself had raised eyebrows and allegation of financial impropriety on certain boards.

The chief ministers seems to be seized about this allegation.

"We have received some complaints," she said on Wednesday.

The chief minister said the state government has given funds to the tune of Rs 556 crore to the different boards in the hills.

No immediate reaction could be sought from the board chairpersons.

During the administrative meeting, the chief minister also urged the hill municipalities to primarily focus on drinking water, sewerage solid waste management and roads.

The status report of a proposed Rs 196 crore drinking water project along with a project to pump water from Teesta at an estimate cost of Rs 83.63 crores was also discussed for Kalimpong.

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