Himachal fails to use World Bank funds


Shimla: Himachal Pradesh, a storehouse of bio-diversity, has failed to utilise 86 percent of forest funds provided under a World Bank-aided project, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said.

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On overall basis, the state failed to utilise 21 percent of the total allocated funds in the past two years.

“Under mountain livelihood enhancement component of the Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project (MHWDP), the financial performance was quite poor as funds ranging from 42 to 86 percent during 2006-09 were not utilised for the intended purpose,” said the CAG in a report.

The MHWDP, started in 2005-06 for seven years, has been designed with the aid of the World Bank for Rs.337.50 crore on 80:20 sharing basis between the lender and the state government.

It has four components – institutional strengthening, watershed development and management, mountain livelihood enhancement and project coordination.

The CAG said the state forest department attributed the under utilisation of funds under the mountain livelihood enhancement component to short allocation of funds by the state government due to promulgation of the model code of conduct for two elections during 2007 and 2008.

“The government reply is not acceptable as even the allocated funds were not fully utilised and the periodicity of election code of conduct was for three months only,” observed the CAG.

The overall performance of the government in implementing the MHWDP was not satisfactory. “The findings are indicative of absence of effective control in the forest department,” it said.

“The funds provided under the MHWDP in the first two years (2005-07) were fully expended whereas in the subsequent two years, against the target of Rs.120 crore, the department spent only Rs.94.26 crore. This shows the government failed to utilise 21 percent (Rs.25.74 crore) of the total funds from 2007-09,” said the report.

The CAG has also detected errors in the data on area under forest cover, area requiring afforestation and area afforested.

“The area brought under forests from 1980 to 2007 was 6,807 sq km, which is 510 sq km more than the afforested area actually available for plantation,” said the report.

As per the State Forest Report of 2005 published by the Forest Survey of India, Himachal Pradesh has 14,752 sq km forest area out of which 1,097 sq km is very dense forest.

The lush green valleys and snow-capped mountains of the state are home to 36 percent of the country’s species of birds. Of the 1,228 species that have been reported in India, 447 have been recorded in this state alone.

Similarly, 77 species of mammals have been recorded by the Himachal State Council for Science, Technology and Environment in its bio-diversity report.