Akhilesh government: Poor record in fund utilisation

By Mohit Dubey, IANS,

Lucknow: The bonhomie between the Samajwadi Party (SP) government in the state and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government notwithstanding, the two seem headed for a confrontation. This, as the UP government has failed to spend large amounts of the budget of central government-aided schemes and projects as the financial year draws to a close.

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Senior officials told IANS that in most schemes, including the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, and MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme), the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna (for better road connectivity in rural areas) and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the Akhilesh Yadav government had “abjectly failed to utilise funds.”

The situation, officials point out, had come to such a pass that MGNREGS was headed to a grinding halt in the state.

Officials admit that with the large amounts – about 57 percent – of central funds under various scheme heads still unspent, utilisation certificates of the same will not be submitted; that could lead to stalling of further funds in the current financial year 2013-14.

“Political leaders of the two ruling parties can only thrash out things, or else it’s a very gloomy picture,” admitted a senior bureaucrat.

As a result of the delay in spending the funds, development work and schemes have suffered in a big way in Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal, priority areas for both the state and union governments.

Rs.7,003 crore (over Rs.70 billion) has been allocated to Uttar Pradesh under the rural employment guarantee scheme and the first installment of Rs.1,400 crore was slashed to Rs.1,170 crore as the state had failed to utilise Rs.1,654 crore it was allocated in 2011-2012.

The UP government had requested UPA II to release the remaining Rs.300 crore, but the request has received lukewarm response from the centre, largely due to the non-utilisation of funds previously, an official said.

“We are not sure when the second installment of MGNREGS will come, or even if it will, at all,” one official quipped.

In the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (scheme for universal education) too the situation is no different. The state government has only spent 59.77 percent of the Rs.1,150.20 crore allocated to it under this scheme.

The centrally aided scheme to promote education got Uttar Pradesh a whopping Rs.6,110.30 crore for the last financial year, but the state has failed to spend Rs.606.88 crore from the previous year, thus jeopardizing any further release of funds.

In the National Agriculture Development Planning Scheme, the state got a share of Rs.400 crore in its kitty, but has been able to spend only a meagre 37.31 percent in the last nine months.

This scheme, aimed at helping raise pulse production and at helping farmers tide over crisis in excessive rainfall areas, has hence proved to be a dud for the state government.

The situation on the infrastructure front is equally abysmal: the state government has only utilized 8.41 percent of the funds (Rs.674.47 crore) allocated to it under the Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojna. This, despite the fact that chief minister Akhilesh Yadav misses no opportunity to proclaim his government’s priority to connect villages with main link roads. The union government allocated Rs.425 crores for UP in the current budget, but with non-utilisation of major funds provided to the state last year, any further release of funds is unlikely.

Though successive governments have projected themselves as harbingers of change and development in the impoverished Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal areas, the central fund under this head is a poor show.

Of the Rs.400 crore given last year, the state government had only spend 27 percent of the funds by November: So much for one year of the Samajwadi Party (SP) government, which came to power with a whopping majority last year, arousing much hope.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])