J&K’s miserable performance under yet another Flagship Prog of Union Govt

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Nov 9: Jammu and Kashmir Government, which has earned notoriety for not deriving intended benefits of Flagship Programmes, has come under sharp criticism from yet another department of the Union Government for being slack in utilization of funds meant for providing adequate safe water for drinking and other purposes to the people living in rural areas.
Like several other Flagship Programmes, this scheme called—National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) has not received any seriousness from the concerned authorities as a result of which the intended objective remains unachieved.
Under this Flagship Programme, financial assistance is provided to the states to enable all households in rural areas to have access to and use safe and adequate drinking water and within reasonable distance.
The objectives of the programme are also to enable communities to monitor and keep surveillance on their drinking water sources, provide drinking water facility especially piped water supply to Gram Panchayats that have achieved open defecation free status on priority basis and to ensure that all the Government schools and Anganwadis have access to safe drinking water.
This Flagship Programme has several components to meet the emerging challenges in the rural drinking water sector. Under the programme funds are provided for coverage of uncovered areas, water quality monitoring and surveillance and operation and maintenance of water supply schemes etc.
According to the official data, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, there was an opening balance of Rs 38.45 crore with the State Government under NRDWP at the beginning of the current financial year under the main component (coverage of uncovered areas) and during the year the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation allocated Rs 410.14 crore under the scheme.
Against this allocated financial assistance, an amount of Rs 205.07 crore was released up to October 27, 2014 but the concerned authorities of J&K could expend only Rs 91.76 crore and percentage of expenditure against the availability of funds has been worked out at 37.68 only.
Similarly, under the component of Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance, there was opening balance of Rs 20.97 crore at the beginning of 2014-15 financial year and during the year till date an amount of Rs 19.33 crore was allocated for the purpose. However, major chunk of this amount remains unspent for unknown reasons.
Under the support component, whereby funds are utilized for various activities like trainings, conferences, seminars and workshops to generate awareness about safe drinking water, there was opening balance of Rs 15.20 crore as on April 1, 2014 and during the current financial year an amount of Rs 32.22 crore was sanctioned but State could utilize only Rs 63 lakh and percentage of expenditure has been worked out at 4.16.
Likewise, under Desert Development Programme (DDP) component, the State could utilize only Rs 3.84 crore against allocation of Rs 16.13 crore by the Union Government. This amount was allocated exclusively for two districts having 12 DDP blocks with population of 96701.
“The poor performance despite lapse of seven months of current financial year has been taken seriously by the Union Ministry, which, in a communiqué to the State Government dated November 7, 2014, has categorically stated that further delay in utilization of funds would delay the implementation of the approved projects and will deprive the targeted population”, sources informed.
It has also hinted that further delay in utilization of approved funds may create problem in release of 2nd installment under this Flagship Programme, sources further informed, adding “it is really a matter of concern that despite timely release of assistance the State Government is lagging behind in utilization of funds thereby defeating the objective of the scheme”.

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