Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee Meets PM Modi, Seeks Timely Release of Central Dues of Over Rs 1 Lakh Cr

Dues on central government schemes like MGNREGA, and lack of financial aid during Covid pandemic as well as Cyclone Amphan, figured among issues raised by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Friday. She submitted a memorandum to the prime minister highlighting that the Centre owed over Rs 1 lakh crore (estimate) to the West Bengal government, seeking timely release of these dues.

“Substantial amount on account of many developments and welfare schemes… estimated to be around Rs 1,00,968.44 crore is also due… With such large amount remaining outstanding, state is facing extreme difficulty to run affairs and take care of people,” Mamata said in the memorandum addressed to Modi.

Mamata arrived at the national capital for a four-day visit on Thursday, and also called on President Droupadi Murmu later in the evening. The Twitter handle of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) shared a picture of the meeting between the two women and said: “Today, our Hon’ble Chairperson and Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal
@MamataOfficial met with the Hon’ble President of India Smt. Droupadi Murmu ji, in Delhi. Moments from the meeting.”

The chief minister met Modi at 4.30 pm, and the two discussed a host of issues concerning her state, including GST dues and timely release of central funds under various schemes. The prime minister’s office shared a picture of the meeting, which lasted about an hour.

Mamata highlighted that with such a massive amount of dues, it was becoming increasingly difficult to run the state and take care of people, especially the poor who are largely beneficiaries of central schemes such as MGNREGA, PM Awas Yojana and PM Gram Sadak Yojana.

“I request for urgent release of funds due to the state for implementation of schemes including MGNREGA, PM Awas Yojna and PM Gram Sadak Yojna… Dues from central government on these schemes amount to about Rs 17,996 crore,” reads the memorandum.

The CM also stated that the state had not received central funds to tackle Covid-19 pandemic, and natural calamities such as cyclonic storms Yaas and Amphan. “…our state had to face critical period and to make substantial expenses for tackling the exigencies arising out of situations like Covid pandemic, natural calamities like Yaas and Amphan, for which central funds have not been received,” the memorandum reads.

She also mentioned that the state government had repeatedly intimated the Centre and sought its intervention for the urgent release of funds to properly implement rural job scheme MGNREGA, PM Awas Yojana and the PM Gram Sadak Yojana.

In her memorandum, Mamata has tabulated the total amount due to the state under different schemes and benefits. The amount due to the state from the central government as on July 31, 2022, has been estimated to be around Rs 1,00,968.44 crore. The CM has often accused the BJP-led Centre of delaying GST payment dues to states, especially those ruled by opposition parties.

After the meeting, Mamata directly went to meet President Murmu. She is also likely to attend a Niti Aayog governing council meeting on August 7 to be chaired by Modi. She did not attend the meeting last year.

Her meeting with the PM has come at a time when her government is facing intense criticism after the teacher recruitment scam and the role of her close confidant Partha Chatterjee in it came to light. Chatterjee, who was sacked from the state cabinet and suspended from the TMC, is facing an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate. While he has maintained his innocence, the central agency seized a massive amount of cash and jewellery from flats owned by his close aide Arpita Mukherjee.

It is, however, not known if the Bengal SSC scam was discussed during the meeting between Mamata and PM Modi.

The TMC has decided to abstain from the vice-presidential poll scheduled for Saturday, so her visit to Delhi assumes even more significance. The BJP-led NDA has fielded former West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar as its vice-presidential candidate while the opposition parties have nominated Margaret Alva.

(With PTI inputs)

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