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State rebuts fund utilisation charge

Patna, Dec. 13: Bihar has refuted junior urban development minister Deepa Dasmunsi’s charge of the state’s “pitiable performance” under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), saying it had sent the utilisation certificate of most projects under the scheme to the Centre by October this year.

“We have sent the utilisation certificate of most schemes under JNNURM to the urban development ministry in the first week of October. We are waiting for the release of the second instalment of funds,” state urban development department secretary S. Siddharth told The Telegraph today.

He admitted to slow progress in the implementation of the JNNURM projects till 2011. “Though implementation of the scheme was slow, it has been expedited over the last year. Contracts of many major projects were awarded in October 2011 and signed in December. The work began in the first quarter of 2012. As far as the utilisation certificates are concerned, it was the first thing that I took up after taking charge as the secretary of this department in August,” Siddharth said.

Dasmunsi had yesterday told the Lok Sabha in reply to a question from RJD MP Jagadanand Singh that “... money was given for eight projects in the state but utilisation certificates of none has been received so far”.

Sources in the urban development department attributed the slow progress to land acquisition and red-tapism.

“This was the first time that big infrastructure development projects requiring land were being executed in the state. For instance, 72 plots measuring 40mx40m were required in the capital to build overhead water tanks under the Patna Water Supply Project. It took several months to acquire all the plots. A huge work was undertaken in 2010-11 to identify and acquire land for most of the pending projects,” a senior officer in the department said.

“Red-tapism was another factor that stalled various projects in the past few years. The projects used to get stuck at various levels in the department for several months before reaching the ministry. The detailed project report of most projects had to be revised because the schemes had become outdated by 2011-12 when steps were finally being taken for their execution. This took another couple of months,” the officer added.

Patna and Bodhgaya are the two cities in the state identified as “mission cities” under JNNURM. Being “mission cities”, they attract most urban infrastructure development projects under urban infrastructure and governance (UIG) and basic services for urban poor sub-missions.

Under the UIG sub-mission, funds to the tune of Rs 214.93 crore have been released to the state-level nodal agencies for undertaking schemes in the two mission cities, against which Rs 95.10 crore was utilised till November 30. The corresponding fund utilisation till March 31, 2012, was Rs 23.73 crore.

Out of Rs 149.12 crore sanctioned for developing 22,372 dwelling units for urban poor at 60 sites in Patna and seven in Bodhgaya under the basic services for urban poor sub-mission, the urban development department is sitting on funds to the tune of around Rs 137 crore because of trouble in getting undisputed land for the execution of the projects.