J&K reluctant to submit UCs of BRGF, repeated reminders fall on deaf ears

*Apprehensions over mis-utilization of Rs 61.66 cr

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Nov 3: In yet another testimony of bureaucratic inertia, Jammu and Kashmir Government has failed to submit Utilization Certificates of funds released by the Union Government under Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) Programme despite repeated reminders from the Ministry of Panchayati Raj during the past eight months.
The Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme, which is an area development intervention aimed at promoting decentralized planning and development through yearly untied development and capacity building grants, was launched in 254 backward districts across 27 States in the year 2006-07.
As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, five districts namely—Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch and Ramban in Jammu province and Kupwara in Kashmir division were selected for funding under this programme keeping in view extreme backwardness of many parts of these districts as compared to other areas of the State.
According to the official data, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj released a total of Rs 225.16 crore as on October 27, 2015 for these five districts of Jammu and Kashmir for redressing imbalances in the development. Of these cumulative releases, an amount of Rs 214.32 crore was sanctioned as Development Grant and Rs 10.84 crore as Capacity Building Grant.
However, the Panchayati Raj Department of J&K could communicate utilization of only Rs 163.50 crore to the Union Ministry. Out of Rs 163.50 crore, an amount of Rs 157.15 crore was spent for the developmental activities in these five districts and Rs 6.34 crore for capacity building of the stakeholders.
“Since Utilization Certificates of Rs 61.66 crore have not been furnished to the Union Ministry till date nobody knows whether the funds have actually been utilized on ground to meet the objective of the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme or have been lying unspent or mis-utilized”, official sources said, adding “had there been proper utilization of the remaining funds there should have not been any reason for the Panchayati Raj Department of the J&K to delay furnishing of Utilization Certificates”.
Stating that concerned bureaucrats of J&K are reluctant to furnish Utilization Certificates of Rs 61.66 crore, sources informed that on March 12, 2015, the Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj wrote a letter to the Commissioner/ Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj of J&K informing him about de-linking of the BRGF programme from the Central Government support with effect from the current financial year.
The Union Joint Secretary explicitly told the Commissioner/ Secretary Panchayati Raj of J&K to submit Utilization Certificates of Rs 61.66 crore at the earliest. As there was no response from the J&K Government, the issue came up for discussion during a review meeting of the Union Ministry held at New Delhi on May 8, 2015 wherein J&K was advised to utilize the unspent funds to complete the spillover works and submit full Utilization Certificates to the Ministry by September 30, 2015 for proper accounting and closure of activities utilizing the funds released by the Central Government.
However, again the administrative inertia for which J&K is known country-wide created roadblock in utilization of funds and submission of Utilization Certificates within the time-line fixed by the Union Government.
“Now, the Union Ministry has again dashed a communication dated October 30, 2015 to the Commissioner/ Secretary Panchayati Raj Department of J&K expressing serious concern over non-adherence to the repeated communications”, sources said. In the communication written by Joint Secretary, it has been mentioned that in a review meeting held on October 30 under the chairmanship of Secretary, Panchayati Raj it has come to fore that J&K has yet not submitted the Utilization Certificates pending since long.
Through this communication, the Union Ministry has fixed the deadline of December 31, 2015 for submission of Utilization Certificates of Rs 61.66 crore funds, sources informed, adding “there are apprehensions over mis-utilization of this amount”.
“All this indicates that bureaucratic inertia is at its peak in Jammu and Kashmir and even repeated hammering from the Union Government has failed to yield positive results not only with regard to Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme but also many other Centrally Sponsored Schemes”, sources remarked.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here