Callous indifference

There was a time in the history of our parliamentary democracy when a big debate ensued on the entire spectrum of Centre-State relationship. The debate was about the powers and rights of the federating States of the India Union. Some states felt that their powers stipulated in the Indian Constitution were trespassed upon and they were not free to exercise them. Though the Indian Constitution comprehensively deals with this issue yet the law makers in the country felt that the entire narrative of Centre-State relations should be opened for debate and all misconceptions on either side should be laid at rest for once and for all times. Consequently, the Sarkaria Commission was constituted many years ago, which worked at great length on the subject and submitted a very in-depth and comprehensive report which became the desk book of rules and procedures for division of power between the Centre and the states.  Ever since many irritants have been resolved and so far no major controversy appeared in this area.
However, it is not clear what are the obligations of the federating units in regard to implementing various projects and schemes floated by the Central Government or its various ministries on national level and for which it also remains committed to providing financial support. The simple logic is that any developmental scheme which the Centre devises is meant for the benefit of the people of the State. What are the obligations on the State to implement these schemes and projects and what are the suggestive measures to see that these are implemented in the larger interests of the people. This question arises specifically in the case of J&K State where a recurring complaint has been that most of the Centrally sponsored schemes are either not implemented at all or their implementation is at snail’s pace so that the purpose of the scheme gets defeated. We do not know whether Sarkaria Commission has focused attention on this aspect because we in the State of Jammu and Kashmir are grievously hurt by non-implementation of Centrally sponsored schemes in the State. The Centre cannot turn Nelson’s eye to the phenomenon of non-implementation and at the same time it has no mechanism to enforce its decisions on the State. This has created a very embarrassing situation.
In these columns we have been regularly highlighting such of the Centrally sponsored schemes as have not been implemented by the State or left half way despite the fact that the Centre has made commitment of financing some of these schemes fully and others only partly. In most of such cases, we find that the State administration has not been able to utilize the allocated funds within time despite repeated reminders from the Union Ministries. In any cases, the Centre has extended the dates of completion of the schemes giving a chance to the State Government to go ahead with the job and not lose the grants that stand sanctioned. For example the case in point is of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin) (previously called Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan) for which grants have increased to Rs 69.50 crore. This scheme has a number of aspects like Annual Implementation Plan (AIP for 2014-15 financial year) target of construction of 300000 Individual Household Latrines fixed for the State.  Against this target only 2670 Household latrines could be built up to December 2014.  Again against target of construction of 530 Community Sanitary Complex, the concerned authorities could get only 14 such complexes constructed up to December 2014. It is greatly discouraging that the Government could utilize only Rs 33 lakh as against availability of Rs 69.50 crore up to December 2014 thereby rendering unspent balance of Rs 69.17 crore as on December 31, 2014. Due to State’s failure to expend allocated amount the remaining portion of annual allocation for current financial year could not be secured from the Union Ministry. Under the AIP, 1264 schools were to be provided with toilets but shockingly this facility was provided in only 3 schools. As far as toilets in Anganwadi Centers are concerned, the State could not make this facility available even in one centre as against target of 300 fixed for the current financial year.
We are puzzled whether this is inefficiency and slackness on the part of the State administration or that there is some nefarious intention behind adopting a very negative approach. As said this is the umpteenth time that we have raised the issue of State Government’s inability or unwillingness to carry forward the developmental schemes of the Centre. Therefore, it is time that the Centre should take up the matter for deeper study and find out a mechanism that would not let the Centrally sponsored schemes go a waste in the State.