West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s antics may have brought in higher central funds for the state, but her government’s performance has been below par in its first year.
A note prepared by the Planning Commission pointed out that the West Bengal government has been able to achieve just 6.5% of its target in agriculture, and provided only 14 days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) — the lowest among the poorer states of India.
The panel also noted that the overall economic growth also slowed down to around 8% in the state after Banerjee took over from the Left Front government.
Banerjee’s tirade against the Left, blaming it for its poor state of affairs, resulted in the central government allocating Rs 22,124 crore in 2011-12, an increase of about 20% as compared to the previous year.
The Centre also gave another Rs 3,500 crore as a special package after Banerjee met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this year.However, the panel’s report on the state’s performance in 2011-12 has shown that the higher allocation may not have translated into action at the ground level.
According to it, the Performance of Central flagship schemes such as Indira Awas Yojana, National Rural Health Mission, mid-day meal scheme and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan has been less than 50%.
“It is primarily because of the weak institutional mechanism at the block level to implement the schemes,” a Planning Commission functionary said.
The panel has expressed surprise that even though the state’s wheat and pulses production recorded the lowest production in the last six years, the amount of work provided under MGNREGA has also been minimal.
“Logically, if agriculture production is low, the demand for work under MGNREGA becomes higher. In West Bengal, both have recorded a low output,” an official said.
The state, however, has done well in implementing the road sector scheme, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission.