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West Bengal to get 600 crore extra revenue from coal cess

Special Correspondent

Kolkata: The cash-strapped West Bengal Government is set to get Rs.600 crore additional revenue from cess on coal. This follows the increase in coal prices earlier this year.

The differential pricing of coal introduced on February 27, 2011, ushered in windfall gains for superior grades of coal like Grade A and B, which is produced in abundance in the State's Ranigunj coalfields. These are also the grades which have seen the sharpest increases, bringing big gains for States like West Bengal where such coal deposits are found.

Sources said that between April and May this year West Bengal's revenue on account of coal cess increased to Rs.220 crore compared to Rs 120 crore in the same two months of 2010.

The new government says it has inherited a massive debt burden and is burdened with a huge amount of unpaid bills. Added to this was a severe under-provisioning in the Budget placed on the floor of the legislature on March 22, 2011, by the then government.

Pointing out that the under-provisioning included vital areas such as social infrastructure and human development, the government has pegged the debt burden at Rs.1.85 lakh crore in 2010-11 which will cross Rs.2 lakh crore this fiscal. The new government has said that the revenue projections were overestimated, while expenditure has been under-stated.

The new government is bracing itself for a Rs.9,000 crore cash deficit during 2011-12 with an under-provisioning which is estimated at Rs 3000 crore. This under-provisioning includes critical areas like food and supplies, health and family welfare, minority affairs, public health engineering, school education, transport, urban development and women and child development.

In his address delivered to the first session of the new Assembly, Governor M. K. Narayanan had said that West Bengal faces a financial debacle of gigantic proportion. Even as the Finance Minister is engaged in an exercise with senior bureaucrats at the Centre to work out a bailout package for the State, the Governor said that he expected the new government to come up with a White Paper on the State's financial status.

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