July 22, 2009


RAIGANJ: In less than one year, the Pradesh Congress-run Zillah Parishad board of North Dinajpore has stalled every mechanism of development while graft and misuse of funds have become the orders of the day, every day.

The very first step that the new board initiated was to garage the perfectly good vehicles of the ZP as ‘scrap.’ Then, they proceeded to buy luxury sedans and SUVs complete with every kind of creature comfort. No accounting goes for the fuel bills that have soared out of sight. Sources tell us that each car runs up fuel bills of half-a-lakh of rupees or more each month. All the spanking new vehicles in which the worthies of the ZP travel are fitted with revolving red beacons flouting motor vehicles and transport department’s restrictions.

Since the district is predominantly rural, we shall dwell here on the rural development aspect, in putting the present ZP on the dock. Bengal Left Front government has an ongoing plan called rural health development scheme. Every document including government orders (GOs) of this scheme has been blatantly filed away by the present régime and the scheme effectively shelved.

The state government had sanctioned Rs two crore 48 lakh for setting up of subsidiary health centres in the remote rural corners of the district at Daspara, Maharajapara, Surun, and Bangalbari. The funds lie quite unutilised as the rural folks suffer for lack of health care.

The state government had also sanctioned – for the nine blocks that make up the district – Rs 1.50 crore in the current financial year (FY) for upkeep and maintenance of the existing health infrastructure. The funds have met with a similar fate. Indeed, we are informed that the amount of money left unused from the previous FY in the same head, however small, too, has not been utilised in any way.

The ZP has also failed miserably in utilising the large quantum of ‘own funds’ that are made available to the three-tier Panchayat system under the present governance. Non-productive, anti-poor drives abound and the ZP office crawls with staggeringly dishonest people.

The district is also affected by refugee problems for a long time now. The state LF government has sanctioned Rs 1.30 crore for development of the infrastructural facilities of the refugee colonies in the current FY. The amounts lie unused, as the refugees and their families suffer.

A similar lack of pro-people initiative is in fact observed in every department of the ZP. Then again, can one expect the otherwise when the board members hail from the lair of the long-standing anti-people outfit called the Pradesh Congress?

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