New Delhi: Amid a chill in relations between Congress and Trinamool Congress, the Centre has refused to release funds to the tune of Rs 168 crore to West Bengal Government for drinking water projects, pointing out that the amount disbursed earlier had not been spent.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who also holds the portfolio of Drinking Water and Sanitation, has written to state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asking her to expedite the spending of available funds and report it to the Centre.
"The first instalment of NRDWP funds for 2012/13 amounting Rs 168.47 crore could not be released so far to your state because the high unspent balance of Rs 253.29 crore with the state as on June 1, 2012," Ramesh said in his letter highlighting the delay in implementing the project.
He informed Banerjee that the Centre would be able to release the funds only after it receives report from the state of the utilisation of the money lying with the state.
Ministry sources said Ramesh has also written a similar letter to Banerjee on the high unspent balance of MNREGA fund.
The refusal to release the funds comes at a time when the relations between Congress and Trinamool, a constituent of the UPA, have been uneasy over the presidential polls.
Trinamool broke ranks with the UPA and is yet to commit support to Pranab Mukherjee, the presidential candidate of the Congress.
Ramesh had recently reviewed drinking water problems in West Bengal which is one of the east Indian states affected by the problem of arsenic and fluoride.