West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to complain about the “steady reduction” of central funds to the state and expressed concern about the “inordinate delay” in disbursement, PTI reported. The chief minister said the state had yet to receive its share of funds to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore till January 2020.
“I write to you with deep concern regarding the steady reduction of central funds to our state and also inordinate delay in release of funds due to us, from Government of India,” Banerjee said in the letter. “You will appreciate that this extraordinary situation is leading to great hardship and creating major difficulties in meeting our obligations for the welfare of the common people of West Bengal.”
Banerjee said Bengal was also being denied devolution funds during the financial year 2019-’20, adding that it led to negative impact on the implementation of development schemes, according to The Indian Express.
The chief minister also claimed that funds totalling Rs 36,000 crore for various centrally sponsored schemes had not been given. “I am further constrained to inform you that an amount of Rs 2,330.01 crore is yet to be received by West Bengal from the central government on account of Special Backward Regions Grant Fund,” she added. “It is needless to say these funds could have given a stimulus to our development efforts in the backward regions of our state, helping crores of disadvantaged people to join the mainstream.”
The chief minister pointed out in her letter that West Bengal’s gross state domestic product grew by 10.4% against the national gross domestic product growth of 5% in 2019-’20.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rahul Sinha questioned why it took so long for Banerjee to write the letter. “What was the state government doing for so long?” he asked. “Just ahead of the municipal elections, all of a sudden, it has realised that it has been deprived of funds. This is merely a political ploy to befool the people of the state.”
Elections to 107 civic bodies in the state and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation are likely to be held in April. The municipal polls are being seen as “mini-Assembly elections” ahead of the 2021 state polls.