Several Govt deptts yet to fully restore infrastructure damaged in 2014 floods

Planning Secy cautions against creation of further liability
Directions issued for completion of all pending works before March 2019

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 27: Despite lapse of several years, many departments of the State Government have failed to fully restore the infrastructure damaged during devastating floods of 2014 even after the release of sufficient funds under Prime Minister’s Package-2015. Taking serious note of this, the Government has now fixed deadline of March 31, 2019 for completion of all pending works.
The devastating floods had ravaged major parts of the State particularly Kashmir valley in 2014 and in 2015 Prime Minister had announced special package for complete restoration of flood affected infrastructure in the length and breadth of the State.
Numerous committees of the bureaucrats were constituted to ensure proper coordination and fast pace restoration of damaged infrastructure by all the concerned departments. Even mechanism of periodic review of the progress by the official machinery was put in place at the highest level in the Government.
However, even after the lapse of nearly three years several Government departments have failed to fully restore the damaged infrastructure despite availability of sufficient funds thereby bringing to fore ineffectiveness of those who remained at the helm of affairs in these departments during these three years.
These departments are Estates, Social Welfare, Tribal Affairs, Animal and Sheep Husbandry, Fisheries, Agricu-lture, Sericulture, Horticulture Planning and Marketing, Horticulture, Forest and Higher Education Department.
As per the official figures, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, the funds to the tune of Rs 111.11 crore were approved and released in favour of these 11 departments for complete restoration of infrastructure damaged in 2014 floods. However, these departments utilized only Rs 82.84 crore till March 2018 and an amount of Rs 28.27 crore remained unspent.
Because of the slackness of officers of these departments, several works could not be completed thereby defeating the objective behind announcement of package by the Prime Minister following devastating floods of 2014, sources said.
They disclosed that in order to ensure that ineffectiveness of the concerned officers doesn’t play spoilsport anymore, the Planning, Development and Monitoring Department has revalidated 50% of the unspent amount in favour of these departments with certain conditions and with the direction to shun slackness in complete restoration of damaged infrastructure.
“The Planning Department has directed those at the helm of affairs in these departments to complete all the pending works by March 31, 2019”, sources said, adding “it has been communicated that the revalidated funds shall be utilized only for specific purposes after observing all the formalities”.
These departments have been asked to ensure that works are taken up and completed within the approved cost and no work shall be tendered/allotted beyond the approved allocation, they further said, adding the Planning Department has made it clear that there shall be no overlapping of funds from any other source and concerned authorities shall be held responsible for non-adherence to these directives.
Cautioning against un-necessary parking of funds, the Principal Secretary to Government Planning, Development and Monitoring Department Rohit Kansal has made it clear to the Administrative Secretaries of these departments that the revalidated funds shall not be available for re-appropriation/diversion at any level.
“No further liability shall be created and works shall physically and financially be completed within the approved cost”, the Planning Secretary said, adding “the balance 50% funds shall only be revalidated once the departments submit the Utilization Certificates of the released/ re-validated amount so far”.
They further said, “it is really a matter of serious concern that even after availability of sufficient funds no efforts were made to ensure fast pace work”, adding “no doubt deadline has been fixed for completion of all pending works but those who without any plausible reason allowed the works to go on at snail’s pace should be identified and taken to the task”.
“Such a step would act as deterrent especially in the light of the fact that there are numerous projects whose fate is hanging in balance due to escalation in cost following inordinate delay in their completion”, sources said.