The Telegraph
Sunday , August 3 , 2014
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State that spends less gets little

Why Jharkhand receives one-third of Bihar’s central funds

Ranchi, Aug. 2: Jharkhand’s dismal trend of utilising central funds far less than what is allocated came into limelight during a Rajya Sabha session recently, when MP Parimal Nathwani’s query revealed that the state received much less than a third of what Bihar did in fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Jharkhand received a total of Rs 8,607.61 crore in past two financial years, Nathwani was told by planning, statistics and programme implementation minister of state (independent charge) Rao Inderjit Singh on July 25. To put the figure in perspective, Bihar got Rs 31,509.59 crore, Chhattisgarh Rs 12,589.45 crore, Madhya Pradesh Rs 26,459.72 crore and Uttarakhand Rs 3,969.41 crore from the Centre during the same two years.

That the state received far less central largesse than Big Brother Bihar and almost twin Chhattisgarh — both got their historical entities in November 2000 — is not by design but default.

Just two days before minister Singh’s disclosures, Jharkhand’s officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty held a high-level meeting of bureaucrats where he discussed how the state could only use less than half of central allocations for 2013-14.

The Centre had allocated Rs 9,500 crore, but the state could use barely Rs 4,000 crore. Less utilisation of central funds translates to less grants for the state.

It forces the state to cut down its subsequent plan size, and in the long run, cements an under-performing image at the level of the Centre.

Armed with figures, officiating chief secretary Chakraborty in his meeting asked deputy commissioners of 24 districts to pull up their socks and submit development proposals of central schemes in their respective districts by August 31.

In 2013-14, funds utilisation in central government schemes like IAP (Integrated Action Plan), BRGF (Backward Regions Grant Fund), JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission), AIBP (Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme), MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme), among others, had been extremely poor.

In MGNREGS, the state was earmarked around Rs 1,400-1,500 crore, which could have gone up based on utilisation, but Jharkhand could utilise a meagre Rs 621 crore. In BRGF, aimed to strengthen the three-tier panchayati raj system in the Naxalite-hit regions, the state could utilise only a paltry Rs 40 crore out of a promised central grant of Rs 470 crore.

In AIBP, the state could not utilise a single penny out of earmarked Rs 1,600 crore despite the fact Jharkhand is largely dependent on monsoon rains for agriculture and only around 10-15 per cent of its land are connected through irrigation systems.

Under JNNURM, out of Rs 500 crore earmarked by the Centre, the state ended up with utilisation of Rs 30-40 crore.

There are 66 centrally sponsored schemes in operation across the country, of which 61 are under implementation in Jharkhand.

“We have given strict directives to all deputy commissioners this time to send proposals for central schemes at the earliest and utilisation certificates for earlier grants also,” planning and development department secretary D.K. Tiwari told The Telegraph.

It is as yet not known how many deputy commissioners have complying with Chakraborty’s deadline and sent in suggestions. In any case, how their proposals would help poll-bound Jharkhand this time is debatable.

Once Assembly election dates are announced, Jharkhand’s bureaucratic machinery will shift gears to do poll-related work. And once Election Commission of India imposes the model code of conduct, though existing schemes will continue, nothing new can start.

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