August 29, 2010

Release Rs 1,400 cr for drought in West Bengal: CPI(M) to Centre

New Delhi:  The CPI(M) today urged the Centre to release Rs 1,400 crore to West Bengal to meet the situation arising out of severe drought in 11 districts, saying the amount was due on account of the employment guarantee scheme.

"We are not asking for charity, neither are we seeking aid from the PM's Relief Fund. We have urged the Centre to release Rs 1,400 crore which is due to the state government on account of the national rural employment guarantee scheme," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.

His senior colleague Basudeb Acharia said he had met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and informed him that 11 districts of the state, which is the largest rice producer, have had deficient rainfall, ranging from 35 to 55 per cent. "Agricultural workers, who have worked under the scheme, are yet to get their wages for over 20 days as the funds have not been released by the Centre so far," he said.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard and also urged Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to send a central team to assess the drought situation, he said.

Asked whether the funds were not released as the state government had not submitted the utilisation certificates for the money sanctioned to it earlier, Acharia said these certificates have been "duly furnished. So there is no problem in releasing the funds. But why is the delay"?

To a question whether Trinamool Congress which was part of the UPA government was creating any obstacle in this process, Yechury said "After all, the government functions on the basis of collective functioning." "We hope that the Centre would release what is due to West Bengal," he said.

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