Slackness prevails in utilization of MHA funds for border areas

Blocks along IB, LoC, LAC still facing development deficit

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 4: The areas close to the International Border, Line of Control and Line of Actual Control in Jammu and Kashmir continue to face development deficit due to slackness on the part of concerned authorities in utilization of funds being made available by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under Border Area Development Programme every year.
The Border Area Develo-pment Programme (BADP) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and its main objective is to meet the special developmental needs and well being of the people living in areas situated along the International Border (IB), Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Under this scheme, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs sanctions huge funds every year for utilization in 44 border blocks in 11 districts of Jammu and Kashmir as per the laid down guidelines.
There are six border blocks in Jammu district, 3 each in Samba and Kathua, four each in Rajouri and Poonch, six in Barmulla, one each in Bandipora and Budgam, nine in Kupwara, three in Kargil and four in Leh.
However, during the past three years the funds released by the MHA have not been utilized in full in any of these blocks thereby depriving the border dwellers of the benefit of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
As per the official figures available with EXCELSIOR, an amount of Rs 6987 lakh was released for 44 border blocks in 11 districts of Jammu and Kashmir during 2014-15. However, the expenditure was to the tune of Rs 5803 lakh as a result of which Rs 1184 lakh remained unutilized.
Similarly, an amount of Rs 9164.92 lakh was released for meeting the developmental needs of the border dwellers during 2015-16 financial year. However, the concerned authorities made expenditure of Rs 7950.75 lakh thereby leaving Rs 1214.17 lakh unspent.
During 2016-17 financial year, an amount of Rs 10884.88 lakh was released for border blocks but the expenditure during the year was to the tune of Rs 9119.51 lakh as a result of which Rs 1765.37 lakh remained unutilized.
These figures clearly reveal that during the past three years BADP funds could not be fully utilized in any of the 11 districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
“No doubt funds under BADP are non-lapsable and get revalidated but inability of the concerned authorities to utilize the funds deprives the border dwellers of the timely benefits of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme”, sources said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the plans under BADP are formulated by District Development Commissioners/ departments and then submitted to the State Level Steering Committee headed by Chief Secretary.
After detailed deliberations the State Level Action Plan is submitted to the MHA and the district level/block wise allocation is determined on the basis of various parameters prescribed by the Government of India such as length of border, population of border blocks and the area of the border blocks etc.
As per the MHA guidelines, the focus is required to be laid on the development of infrastructure in the villages falling within 10 kilometers distance from IB, LoC and LAC.
“The delay in formulation of plans by the District Development Commissioners and then clearance by the State Level Steering Committee is also responsible for non-utilization of BADP funds”, sources said while disclosing that BADP plans were never submitted to the Border Management Division of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on time.
“Though the dilly-dallying approach in submission of plans has been viewed seriously by the MHA a number of times yet there is no improvement in the approach of the concerned authorities of Jammu and Kashmir”, sources further said, adding “there are numerous areas in the identified border blocks which are still deprived of even basic amenities but despite being aware of this fact the concerned authorities have not initiated steps to ensure full utilization of funds earmarked for a particular year”.
Disclosing that an amount of Rs 7040.55 lakh has been released under BADP during the current financial year, sources said, “the expenditure is still not up to the expectations despite the fact that financial year is going to be closed within another less than two months”.
“Keeping in view the difficulties of the border dwellers the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti should intervene and ensure effective and timely utilization of funds under BADP by the concerned authorities”, sources stressed.