By A Newsman
Kolkata, 20 August: WEST Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has demanded that the Centre should handover all the National Highways’ in Bengal to the state government as the Central agencies are unable to maintain them.
At the direction of the Chief Minister, Bengal chief secretary Sanjay Mitra will be flying to New Delhi tomorrow to pursue the matter with Union ministry of road transport and highways.
Miss Banerjee on Thursday chaired an administrative review meeting of all the departments at state secretariat Nabanna premises in Howrah and she was reported to have come down heavily on corruption in some departments, especially in the irrigation.
Besides the departmental secretaries, the meeting was attended by all her Cabinet colleagues but transport minister Madan Mitra, who is under arrest in the Saradha scam.
She asked chief secretary Mr Mitra to transfer all corrupt officials from their present postings and departments, sources said, adding that Miss Banerjee used expletives to warn the officials against corruption. The range of her target spanned from irrigation to PHE and housing to PWD.
Addressing the Press after the near three-hour review meet from 1 pm, the Chief Minister said that the condition of most of the National Highways in Bengal were terrible, to say the least, due to absence of regular maintenance.
“The highways are in a dire state and our repeated request for repair has fell into deaf ears. But we will not allow the Centre to put the lives of common people of the state at risk. We want the National Highways to be handed over to us; let the Centre give us the money, we will maintain them in a far better way,” she said.
“The CS will go to Delhi for this. If the Centre does not concede the demand, I will go to Delhi personally to fight for this,” Miss Banerjee added. She said that the National Highways in Malda, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Jhargram and North 24-Parganas have become unusable.
Miss Banerjee patted her government saying that 99.22 per cent of the funds allocated in the 2014-15 fiscal year have been spent by various departments. But the cut in allocation for several Centre-sponsored schemes was affecting various welfare measures.
“For instance, the allocation for ICDS has been cut by about 50 per cent and this has directly hit the benefits given to pregnant women and impoverished children. Notwithstanding this, when the Delhi leaders and ministers visit Kolkata, they announce giving away thousands of crores to Bengal as if they were taking part in an auction. This creates confusion in people’s mind,” the Chief Minister said.
Miss Banerjee lamented that banks were not providing expected amount of loans to Bengal’s farmers, self help groups and businessmen despite collection of high deposits from the state.