West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s opposition to the Teesta water-sharing agreement with Bangladesh threatens to throw a spanner in India’s hopes of inking a pact during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit next week.
Foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay recently said the Centre is talking to get all stakeholders including states “on board” before signing the treaty.
But the Teesta treaty is not a one-off instance where the Banerjee-led Trinamool government is at odds with the Centre. Here is a list of Central schemes/programmes that has been stonewalled by the West Bengal government in the last three years.
Smart cities mission
PM Narendra Modi launched his government’s ambitious programme to develop 100 smart cities in June 2015. Initially, West Bengal had nominated four cities, capital Kolkata, Bidhan Nagar, New Town and Haldia, for re-development under the scheme. But last year, the state pulled out New Town. Banerjee has openly criticised the Smart Cities project and said it will promote “inequitable development.” The West Bengal government has instead proposed to develop ten green cities including Rajarhat in the next five years that will be eco-friendly as well as smart instead of just one city based on parameters fixed by the Centre.
Real estate regulatory authority act
West Bengal is one of the few states that has not yet framed rules under the landmark law passed by parliament in May 2016 to protect homebuyers in India from unscrupulous developers. Under the realty law, states were given time till November 27 to notify their own rules based on the central law, which was to serve as benchmark.
“Neither have they framed the rules nor responded to the numerous communications we have sent to them on this issue. The state did not send any representative to two meetings that we held on January 17 and March 27 to address various issues/queries related to the law that states had raised,” said a official of the Union housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry. The full Act will come into force from May 1 when the regulatory authority is set up in each state and Union Territory.
River inter-linking project
The West Bengal government has not agreed to come on board for the Centre’s project to link the Manas-Sankaosh-Teesta-Ganga rivers to provide benefits of irrigation, drinking water and flood control to Assam, West Bengal and Bihar. Despite several letters written by Union water resources minister Uma Bharti to Banerjee soliciting her support, the the Bengal chief minister has opposed the project saying it will adversely affect the state’s interest. The feasibility report of the Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga link for alternate alignment is under final stage of preparation after the original alignment was not approved.
Scrapping of common engineering test
West Bengal has opposed the Centre’s move to have a single entrance test for admissions to all engineering colleges. West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee recently wrote to Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar opposing the move to scrap state engineering entrance exams on the ground that it amounts to Centre encroaching on state’s jurisdiction.
Swachh Bharat survey
West Bengal has also pulled out of the ‘Swachhata Survekshan’, a survey that ranks cities on the basis of cleanliness. Conducted by the Union urban development, as part of the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Mission, the third edition of the survey had 500 cities across India in its list. But the 60 cities from West Bengal are not participating in the survey.
Onkar Singh Meena, West Bengal’s urban development secretary recently told HT that Banerjee had launched Mission Nirmal Bangla to make the state open defecation free (ODF), and there is no point in having a survey.