Mamata Banerjee has slammed urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim for being unable to spend around Rs. 2,000 crore central fund under the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme.
Adding to the chief minister’s concern and surprise, 50% of the Members, Mayorin-Council (MMiC) of the Trinamool-controlled Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and 40 councillors from her party out of the 55 wards have failed to form Neighbourhood Committees (NHC).
HT took the task of finding out the persons responsible for not availing the crores of rupees as Union government funding under the ‘Urban Self Employment Programme’ by not forming the NHCs.
Surprisingly, the names of defaulting councillors include heavyweights like MMiC (health and engineering) Atin Ghosh (a contender to replace Sovan Chatterjee ast the next city mayor), KMC chairman Satchidananda Banerjee,MMiC(sewerage,drainage and parking)RajibDeb,MMiC (lighting) Manzar Iqbal, MMiC (roads) Sushanta Ghosh, MMiC (education)MitaliBanerjee,MMiC (prevention of food adulteration) Partha Pratim Hazari.
Even the wards represented by fire and civil defence minister Javed Ahmed Khan’s wife Rafat Javed and housing and youth services minister Aroop Biswas’s sister-in-law Jui Biswas too do not have NHCs.
“It is hard to form self-help groups and thereby NHCs. No BPL families in my area are ready to invest so much time for these central governmentfunded programmes. They earn a lot in lesser time by cooking in different households,” Ghosh said explaining why he is a nonperformer under this scheme.
Refuting to buy the logic of her colleague, member, mayor-incouncil (social sector) Sanchita Mondal said, “People in all the wards including the defaulting wards are queuing up for taking employment under 100-days job guarantee schemes, so there are no dearth of needy people. It is because of the lackadaisical attitude of my fellow MMiCs and councillors that we have failed to form NHCs.”
Out of the 86 NHCs formed till date, 81 NHCs - one each at every ward - had been formed during the tenure of former mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, says KMC records.
During three years of Trinamool rule only five NHCs in five wards were formed, which suggests very poor performance.
“I and my mayor made several attempts during these three years but all fell on deaf ears. The mayor had written to councillors for availing such schemes but the response is very poor,” Mondal said.