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Sample district fails growth test

- CAG report punches holes in govt claims

Ranchi, Sept. 9: Johar Jharkhand is increasingly becoming an overstatement for this 12-year-old tribal hinterland.

A three-year report card prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) taking Hazaribagh district as a test case has revealed a deplorable pace of socio-economic development at the grassroots level.

The 40-page report — which has examined the performance of a host of schemes and proposals, from police modernisation plans, road projects, the national rural job scheme to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and health campaigns between 2008 and 2011 — was tabled in the state Assembly on Friday.

“The implementation of various schemes has suffered because of insufficient manpower, infrastructure bottlenecks, inadequate money management and ineffective monitoring,” the public funds monitor has said.

Former principal accountant-general Benjamin Lakra pointed out that though the report focussed on Hazaribagh, the scenario was arguably no better in other districts. “It is not possible for CAG to conduct such reviews in all the 24 districts,” he added.

According to the CAG report, Rs 142.39 crore out of Rs 887.72 crore, which flowed into the district in the past three years, had remained unutilised because the administration could not find sites for development projects and finalise tenders on time. In some cases, funds were made available by the government at the fag end of the financial year.

The report has found that basic medical services such blood storage, obstetrics care and X-ray, ultrasound and electro-cardiogram facilities were not available at community health centres.

It detected just 36,261 (36 per cent) institutional deliveries against 1,00,632 pregnant women registered. Again, only 57,243 pregnant women received all three antenatal check-ups under Janani Suraksha Yojana.

These glaring lapses despite Rs 29 crore being sanctioned to the district for improving healthcare.

The report has also revealed that out of 1,826 anganwadi centres, 1,584 had no toilets and 377 had no drinking water facilities.

The public funds monitor has further punctured the government’s claim on adequate infrastructure for police forces in their fight against rebels.

Only two police stations and three barracks were added in 2008-11 against the requirement of five police stations and 50 barracks. There is 16 to 61 per cent shortage of main strike weapons like 5.56 Insas rifles, AK 47 and 9mm pistols, while the crunch was nine to 100 per cent in case of area weapons like light-machine guns, mortars and hand grenades.

The forces are also grappling with manpower crunch — 16 to 50 per cent dearth in officers’ cadre and 25 to 100 per cent shortage in constabulary cadre. “Inadequate manpower has affected investigation of cases. Out of 4,286 cases reported, 1,243 were pending for investigations till September 2011,” the report has pointed out.

The job and education scenarios are no less bleak.

A whopping 96 to 99 per cent households did not receive the promised 100-day employment under MGNREGS, while the total number of out-of-school children has increased from 9,935 in 2008 to 15,658 in 2011, despite Rs 225.19 crore being pumped in for education.

Hazaribagh has also made mockery of the Right to Education Act, which says that every school must have toilets, safe drinking water, electricity, ramp and kitchen sheds.

“Against a requirement of 1,605 common toilets, 1,515 girls’ toilets and electrification of 1,494 schools, only 230 common and 255 girls’ toilets and electrification of 10 schools were completed,” the report said. On the other hand, the plan for kitchen shed and ramps in primary schools were not added at all.

The district has also failed miserably to implement schemes to make drinking water safe. A laboratory set up in 2006 to test available water has remained non-functional for want of a chemist and an assistant.

A central campaign, aimed to provide sanitation in rural areas by giving every person access to toilets by 2012, has come a cropper too. The shortfall was alarming in case of families above the poverty line (APL) and in construction of community sanitary complexes, the report said.

Deputy commissioner Manish Ranjan, who joined Hazaribagh in December 2011, refused to comment on the tell-tale CAG findings, saying he was yet to go through the report.

The Assembly’s public accounts committee (PAC) has, meanwhile, convened a meeting on September 28 to discuss the report.

Hazaribagh MLA Saurabh Narayan Singh, who also happens to be the chairman of PAC, said he had asked the district administration to respond to the audit findings. “I have scheduled a meeting in this regard. It won’t be appropriate to comment on the report before that,” he added.