Ahead of panchayat polls, chief minister Mamata Banerjee will initiate construction of 8,000 kilometre of rural roads while providing financial aid to construct houses to over five lakh economically challenged people. “The new roads would be flagged off on 13 February from Nadia.

I would direct the district authorities to float necessary tenders. A total of 33,000 kilometre of rural roads have already been constructed in the state,” said Miss Banerjee at a programme to provide financial aid to the poor for construction of houses at Netaji Indoor Stadium. Slamming the Centre for the frequent rise of petrol diesel prices and price of essential commodities, Miss Banerjee announced reducing the number of instalments for disbursing the aid for benefiting people.

“The petrol and diesel prices are hiked every month. Along with this, the price of essential commodities, clothes and other items have also gone up. The price hike has set our kitchen on fire. Now, with the rising cost of materials, there are many practical problems for people to undertake construction if aid is given in four instalments. So, we will provide the aid in two instalments.

We have to stand beside the hapless and set up roofs over their heads so that at least the people can live life with respect,” she said. According to the Bangla Awas Yojana, state government provides Rs 1.30 lakh to the people of Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore while for the remaining districts the aid amounts to Rs 1.20 lakh.

Presently, aid is given in four instalments of Rs 40,000 (or 44,000 for Junglemahal districts), Rs 30,000 (or 32,000), Rs 40,000 (or 42,000) and Rs 10,000 (or 12,000). According to Miss Banerjee, a total of 25 lakh houses were constructed for the poor under different housing schemes in the last six years.

Bengal is number one in housing and rural employment generation, she added. Speaking on the occasion, state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said that the state has bagged the first position in major central schemes.