In November 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a massive developmental package for the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the tune of 80,000 crore rupees. Obviously, when the Centre announced Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) it meant that the centre had very closely worked on the developmental plans submitted by the State Government. This plan went through NITI Aayog, in normal process, and fulfilling all other requirement, was finally accepted by the Finance Ministry and the Union Cabinet. Such packages are always specific about the areas and facets of development so as to bring to the State uniformity in developmental exercise. Roads, hospitals, social welfare, education, tourism, forests, water bodies, agriculture, horticulture, sanitation and dozens of other services are all taken into consideration and their needs assessed on priority. It is this assessment that helps in formulating the process of allocations for each service. This is conveyed to the State Government.
Allocation made by the Central Government carries with it some guidelines and some conditions. These are essentially meant to ensure that the States take developmental work seriously and at the same time have the technical roadmap for proper implementation of the projects envisage for financial support. Thereafter, the onus rests with the State Government. Each State has to cater to developmental culture. It means that the departments of the Government have to be made acquainted with the schemes and projects approved along with the budget quantum and its guidelines.
Unfortunately, in our State developmental culture has not really come to the stage of manifestation. One important condition which the developmental packages carry is the time frame meaning that the recipient State has to complete the project within the stipulated time frame and there are stages for release of funds as work progresses. Absence of developmental culture in our State is discernible in departments concerned failing to do the spade work efficiently and in time for the launch of a project. In both of these things, our State has been showing good deal of deficiency. We are not able to prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) in time and we are not able to initiate the preliminaries of a sanctioned project. The result is that the funds lapse and allocations make little sense. In the case of PMDP for Jammu and Kashmir, by way of example, not even the DPR is prepared for very important projects like six major projects of the power sector out of which only one has been initiated till date. Look how much deficit we are in power sector and how adversely it is affecting our economy, and well being. No sensible and caretaking administration would handle such an important matter casually. But that is what our Government has been doing. The net result is that the State remains backward. Out of 19 Public Works (Roads and Buildings) projects under the PM’s Development Package, only 8 have been initiated during the past one year. Again in Health sector, creation of two AIIMS-like institutions and stepping up of support under creation of infrastructure in District Hospitals, Sub-District Hospitals and Primary Health Centers have been suggested. But except for small initial work in one of the two AIIMS, no initiative has been taken one year to start work on the entire scheme.
We have cited only three examples of very essential and important developmental projects sanctioned under the PMDP but awaiting execution by the State Government. It shows that the pace of our development is extraordinarily slowed almost negligible. Undoubtedly this is a big set back to our developmental programme in the State. We are lagging behind most of the States and yet we are unable to tell why it is so. We know that the Chief Minister had ordered constituting a high level committee headed by the Chief Secretary to probe into the reasons why we are not able to complete big and important projects sponsored Centrally in time and why we are forced to become patient watchers of enormous funds lapsing. We do not know whether this committee ever met, and if it did meet what were its findings. Our State cannot afford to lose huge developmental funds and our State cannot afford to remain under-developed in view of its volatile situation. Therefore we strongly impress upon the Government to ensure that projects sponsored by the centre would be taken up for execution without loss of time and the progress on the work has to be monitored closely.