West Bengal to get Rs 16,000cr over 3 yrs

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With a financial package of Rs 16,000 crore, to be released in four phases over three years, hammered out for West Bengal, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.

West Bengal is expected to get liberal financial allocations under various Central schemes to enable it to speed up development activity.

But after granting West Bengal this bonanza, the Centre could face a tricky situation, as similar demands will certainly be made by several Opposition-ruled states, including Bihar and Orissa.

Some weeks back Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ‘under what constitutional provision were West Bengal’s demands being considered?’

Banerjee, who met Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav soon after reaching New Delhi Tuesday evening, is believed to have talked about special packages for their states after discussing the presidential poll. UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had recently demanded a package similar to that sought by West Bengal.

A senior Trinamul leader and UPA minister confirmed to this newspaper: “We have come to know West Bengal will get Rs 16,000 crore in four phases spread over three years. This will be cleared at a Cabinet meeting.”

West Bengal got Rs 8,750 crore last year under the special Backward Region Grants Fund. The state government had sought a moratorium on interest payments, while claiming the state had over Rs 2 lakh crore in debt, which incl-udes a large chunk from small savings borrowings.

The state recently got approval for a slew of proposals under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna to the tune of Rs 2,000 crores, and additional NREGS allocations despite not spending Rs 1,000 crores allocated last year.

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