It looks bizarre to note that a vital department like Agriculture Production Department has failed to utilize in full the amount released under various state or central schemes for the financial year 2017-18. By and large, less than 50 per cent of the allocated amounts have been utilized. This brings out the paradox in the policy of the State Government as on one hand the Government while proposing budget for various schemes and projects gives inflated figures but on the other hand it is not able to utilize even one half of the allocated amount. The Government shall have to explain the paradox as to what makes it ask for inflated allocations and what hampers it from utilizing the allocated amount.
It is shocking that apart from utilizing only 50 per cent of the allocation, in some cases not even a single penny has been spent. The State Government repeatedly says that agriculture production is of vital importance to the strengthening of the economy of the State and that unless this sector is fully addressed, no real economic progress can be visible. Keeping in view the discouraging performance of the department, the claim of the Government that giving more incentives to boost agricultural production appears to be only a hollow slogan and that the Government is not really interested in what it calls a priority.As per the official figures available with us, an amount of Rs 16674.01 lakh was released under different Centrally Sponsored Schemes and Capex Budget to the Agriculture Production Department and its wings for utilization during 2017-18 financial year. However, an amount of only Rs 8191.50 lakh was spent during the first three quarters (up to ending December 2017). Just two and a half months are left for the closure of the financial year and obviously when less than half was utilized in nearly ten months how can it be possible for the department to utilize the entire remaining amount which is more than half in just two months. The simple inference is that the amount will lapse. It is no less than an irony. It is a sad commentary on the efficiency and competence of the functionaries of the department. One more example may be cited. An amount of Rs 420 lakh each was released to the Directorate of Agriculture Kashmir and Jammu under Capex Budget. However, less than 50% expenditure has been registered by both the Directorates up to ending December 2017. The Jammu Directorate has spent Rs 205.60 lakh against Rs 420 lakh while as Directorate of Agriculture Kashmir has incurred Rs 204.79 lakh against release of Rs 420 lakh.Surprisingly, the slackness and inertia have overtaken not only the department but also both Agricultural universities in the State, one in Srinagar and the other in Jammu. Out of a total grant of Rs. 1050 lakh for each university hardly Rs 520 lakh have been spent. The more appalling situating is with the Centrally Sponsored Schemes like National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA),National Mission on Agriculture Extension and Technology (NMAET) and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana. There are many more schemes other than these mega ones but nowhere more than 35-40 per cent allocations have been utilized. In the Centrally Sponsored Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, an amount of only Rs 930.73 lakh has been spent against the release of Rs 2247.54 lakh.
We have often said that there is a case about State’s inability or unwillingness to implement Centrally sponsored schemes. We have suggested constituting a committee of senior bureaucrats (including retired ones) to deliberate on the crucial issue of non-implementation of Centrally sponsored projects in the state. This is a serious matter because if we allow the things to go like that the result will be that a day will come when our State will be identified as the only State in the country that lags behind all other States in march towards improvement and modernization. Agricultural production is a vital department and no slackness should be allowed to jeopardize the progressive schemes initiated by the Union Government. Under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana an amount of Rs 2500 lakh was made available while as under National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm funds worth Rs 20 lakh were made available to the concerned authorities. No step has been taken in the direction of insuring the crops of the farmers though other states have taken full benefit of this scheme.
We are disappointed that the department is bogged with delivery problem and funds are allowed to lapse. The Agriculture Minister owes great responsibility in the entire matter and he should take the initiative of bringing in drastic reform in the functioning of the department.