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Centre raps Assam govt
- Dispur fails to send utilisation certificates of projects

New Delhi, Dec. 19: The Assam government got a rap from the commerce ministry in Parliament today for failing to send utilisation certificates for using funds for “industrial growth centres”.

Central ministries release funds to finance projects phasewise after state governments send utilisation certificates for funds used in every phase.

The Centre had decided to set up industrial parks in Chaygaon, Balipara and Matiya, one of them as far back as 1997.

The Balipara growth centre was conceptualised in 1997 and after 16 years infrastructure work is still incomplete, minister of state for commerce and industry D. Purandeshwari conceded in the Rajya Sabha today. The original cost was Rs 25.43 crore of which Rs 15 crore was the central grant and the state spent Rs 16.72 crore on its own. “The utilisation certificate was only for Rs 11 crore,” Purandeshwari said.

Ironically, the question that showed the three-term-old Tarun Gogoi government in poor light came from Congress PCC chief and Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneshwar Kalita. “Unless utilisation certificates are sent we cannot release the funds and they have not been given to the government of India,” Purandeshwari said again while replying to a supplementary question from the AGP’s Kumar Deepak Das. Das, however, raised the issue of crippled national projects because of inadequate allocation of funds.

Describing work at Chariduar (Balipara) growth centre, Purandeshwari said work on water and effluent treatment plants were still incomplete and the “state needs to look into it”.

Growth centres are a bygone concept, thought about in 1988 by the National Productivity Council.

The scheme has been discontinued since 2009 but with little industrialisation in the Northeast, the “growth centres” are still work-in-progress stage. For the Matiya area, Rs 22 crore was approved but only Rs 15 crore was released, again ostensibly because of delay by state in sending utilisation certificates.

Failure to submit these documents leads to suspicion that there may have been leak of funds.