With an eye on Panchayat elections, the state Budget announced ‘Rastashree’ to redevelop old roads and lay new roads in rural Bengal for a better connectivity. The state Budget allocated Rs 3,000 crore to this project.
“Rural roads stretching up to 11,500 km will be taken up under this project. New roads will be built and existing stretched relayed,” said minister of state for finance Chandrima Bhattacharya. She pointed out that chief minister Mamata Banerjee had prioritised the redevelopment of rural road infrastructure, despite the non-cooperation of the Centre in granting funds. In several meetings with ministers, Banerjee had said she would carry out rural development with the state’s own resources, if central funds were not released, Bhattacharya recounted.
But the opposition criticized Rastashree. “It is an announcement by the government of failed promises. The Centre has set a target to build 50,000 km new roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana by 2030. How do we know these roads will not be built under the same scheme?” said leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who along with BJP MLAs, had entered the hall sporting, a mask with an image of a Rs 500 note.
He said it was a protest against the government’s ploy to shut people up with a dole of Rs500 a month.