Kolkata: West Bengal government has issued an order for all district magistrates to immediately start the process of infrastructure audit in all markets located in the rural belts of the state and submit a report to the state secretariat at the earliest.
Upon receiving the reports from the district magistrates, the state micro, small and medium enterprises department will identify the areas of infrastructure in such markets that need improvement and take up the task accordingly. Sources from the state secretariat of Nabanna said that the proposal has been mooted in view of the three-tier panchayat elections in the state next year, in the backdrop of which the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee has directed all state government departments to complete the pending rural development projects at the earliest.
“The proposed audit will cover areas like area covered under a particular market, available infrastructure, average turnout of the buyers and sellers and distance of the market from the respective railway stations or bus-stands,” said a senior official of the state micro, small and medium enterprises department.
According to him, local markets often play a key role in development of the rural economy in the state since these markets act as a hub for the rural population to showcase and market their products. “These rural markets also act as an important platform for the women- operated self-help groups to show-case and market their products. However, there had been frequent complaints from both buyers and sellers about the lack of proper infrastructure in such markets. So, this infrastructure audit will be helpful in identifying the deficiencies and taking corrective measures,” the state government official said.
The departmental minister, Chandranath Sinha, is however, not ready to connect this initiative with the forthcoming three-tier panchayat elections in the state. “Election or no elections, all the state government departments, under the dynamic leadership of our chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, work throughout the year for the welfare and benefit of the people. So, this audit is an extension of that development work that is carried out throughout the years,” he said.
However, he added, that previously there had been confusion over which department is responsible for development of these rural markets. “This often delayed the process. No since the department headed by me had been given the charge specifically, those confusions would be eliminated,” he said.
It is learnt that during the audit, special focus will be given to identify whether there are adequate arrangements for drinking water, public urinals, separate parking space for the goods carriage vehicles and availability of rain-sheds.