The West Bengal government on Friday ruled out Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's demand for spending central relief funds for Aila victims in the state through panchayats, saying local civic bodies were under the state's jurisdiction.
"According to the Constitution, the panchayats and municipalities are state subjects. So, while sending funds to them, the Centre cannot bypass the state government," Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta told newsmen after reviewing the post- Aila situation.
On Thursday, the state government had appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to have Aila declared as a national calamity and that a central team visit the affected areas with state government officials.
To buttress its appeal, the state government was preparing a memorandum which will be sent to Delhi next week, Dasgupta said, adding that after receiving it, the National Calamity Relief Find Committee will hold a meeting to take a decision on the matter.
Dasgupta said that the state government wanted the central team to arrive at the earliest to assess the damage.
Meanwhile, the toll in the storm today rose to 117 with two more deaths reported from Darjeeling, he said, adding that 53.43 lakh people were affected. Altogether seven lakh houses were partly or fully damaged.