Kolkata: West Bengal has asked the Union government to pay for half the cost of unfinished projects under a city modernization scheme, citing cost escalation.
“Because construction materials have become more expensive, the cost of implementation of ongoing projects has increased by at least Rs500 crore,” Asok Bhattacharya, the state’s urban development minister, told a meeting of an industry lobby group in Kolkata on Tuesday.
The Centre bears 35% of the cost of projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the remaining 65% is borne by the state governments and local bodies.
The Centre has cleared projects in West Bengal worth some Rs8,500 crore under the scheme. It has also released about Rs1,200 crore but the state government has spent a total of Rs1,400 crore on ongoing projects under the city modernization scheme.
Saugata Ray, junior minister for urban development at the Centre, criticized the West Bengal government last month for not doing enough to implement projects under the mission. Ray is a member of Parliament from the Trinamool Congress, the main opposition party in West Bengal, which is ruled by the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Ray had also said in August that while Gujarat topped the list of states in utilizing funds for the scheme, followed by Maharastra, West Bengal lagged behind due to lack of projects.
Bhattacharya, however, said on Tuesday that several other states have also approached the Centre to increase funding support to 50%.
Ray confirmed this, saying that at least eight states, including Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, have put in such requests. “But it is not something we are immediately considering,” he said on Tuesday.
The Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority has secured a Rs500 crore line of credit from Housing and Urban Development Corp Ltd to complete the delayed projects.
Almost all projects in West Bengal under the scheme are trailing schedule. In some cases, the cost has doubled. A flyover on the eastern fringes of Kolkata is now estimated to cost Rs70 crore, whereas initial cost estimate was Rs35 crore, according to Bhattacharya.