About 15 departments of the Government in the State have failed to utilize in full the grants sanctioned to them for the financial year 2016-17. Allocations were made under Prime Minister’s Development Package for the current financial year and released through Planning, Development and Monitoring Department.
In the first place, this indicates contradiction in terms. We know our State does not have a strong economy and most of the developmental schemes are dependent on the financial support received from the Union Government. Despite this, when funds are made available, the State Departments are unable to utilize them optimally. What are the reasons for this contradicting phenomenon? What is more surprising is that the departments that have failed to utilize the funds in full are also the departments that are earmarked for lowest performance. Two of these are the R&B and School Education Department. Both of these departments are directly connected to public service meaning that these are involved in providing service to the public directly.
About roads, in Jammu province, the R&B Department was released Rs 20000 lakh but it utilized Rs 16358 lakh thereby leaving Rs 3641.71 lakh as unspent. However, in Kashmir province the R&B Department utilized Rs 19545.82 lakh against release of Rs 20000 lakh thereby leaving only Rs 454.18 lakh as unspent Anybody who happens to move across some of the crowded areas of Jammu city will find that the roads are in very bad condition and not really motorable. The condition of roads in various parts of Jammu region particularly in district headquarters and rural areas is worse. The quality of material used for black topping is of low quality and can hardly bear one monsoon season. Leave aside the rural and district areas even in the city of Jammu and within the municipal areas of the town, the condition of most of the roads is deplorable. Though in the region of Kashmir not a big amount remains unutilized on roads yet whatever remains unutilized shows that there is slackness at some level.
The reality about the School Education Department is disheartening. In the floods of 2014, wide scale damage was inflicted on school infrastructure. The funds allocated to the head should have been utilized for reconstructing the infrastructure. But the School Education Department has miserably failed in its performance in regard to reconstruction of damaged infrastructure. Further, there are a number of damages in structures which could be repaired within a small sum of rupees 1 -2 lakh but even that has not been done. Obviously, it reflects the incompetence of the authorities at the helm of affairs as also of the senior bureaucrats who are at the top of administrative pyramid. But most of all, the onus should go first to the doorsteps of the MLAs/MLCs as well as the Ministers. If the MLAs are sincerely dedicated to the development of their respective constituencies, it is their duty to be on spot at the place of operation. It seems the elected representatives are least concerned about their responsibilities and duties. Why don’t they raise their voice and invite the attention of the concerned in the Government to the slackness of Government functionaries. Why don’t they raise questions in the Assembly and why don’t they establish liaison with the heads of the departments/Secretaries and demand answers to questions like why roads are in a dilapidated condition and why infrastructures damaged way back in 2014 have not been repaired. If the MLAs find that the reason for delay or suspension of work are genuine, they should take up the matter with higher authorities and get things done. In our opinion, there should be some constitutional provision of holding respective elected representative also responsible for slackness, delay or other faults happening in proper utilization of funds. We feel that the Government shall have to evolve a modified system in which the peoples’ elected representatives are given powers and privileges to monitor, advise and report on the on-going projects in urban and rural areas. Their opinion and experience should be given priority in the meetings of District Development Boards held annually.