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Cheer amid funds blow

The British government’s decision to stop aid to India after 2015 appears to have affected the state only marginally. The Department for International Development (DFID), Government of United Kingdom, is at present aiding projects in urban development, health and administrative capacity building.

For Bihar, most of the DFID-aided projects end in 2014 — a year before the deadline. “We are not dependent on the DFID. Most assistance was technical support and capacity building. We will have an alternative arrangement to ensure that the projects continue,” said deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who also holds the finance portfolio. He, however, expressed hope that the UK may reconsider its stand.

However, the state does not go entirely untouched. One of the most ambitious programmes announced by the health department — the Nayi Pidhi Swasthya Guarantee Yojana last year would be affected. The scheme aims to issue health cards to 3.4 crore children in the age group of 0 to 14. Bihar was the first state to launch the scheme under which the health cards would facilitate free medicine, outpatient department facilities and specialised medical care for five years.

Health department additional secretary R.P. Ojha said: “Last year under the DFID scheme, the state government got Rs 140 crore to utilise funds under the Nayi Pidhi Swasthya Guarantee Yojana and for establishment cost of Pawapuri Medical College, Nalanda.”

However, Ojha said his department has not received any information regarding withdrawal of the DFID from Bihar-centric projects. Officials said most of the funds were meant to issue health cards to children in 70,000 state schools and 11,000 health centres. “This year, the state government received Rs 46.20 crore under the DIFD schemes for the same project. However, the fund is still to be utilised,” added Ojha.

The additional secretary said: “The funds provided by the DIFD are assistance funds for existing plans and schemes being run by the state government. If the DFID decides to withdraw aid from 2015, the state government or the Centre will bear the cost.”

Ojha said the state government and national rural health mission fund the majority of projects and even if the DFID decides to withdraw aid, the state government or the Union government will assist in the projects.

In the urban development department, there is a partnership between the DFID and the state government for six years — April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2016, which aims to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty, and enhance the ability of the identified urban local bodies to provide services and attract private investment. DFID is aiding the Support Programme for Urban Reforms (SPUR) in 29 towns.


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