NEW DELHI, April 6 - A report, submitted to Parliament by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs (headed by P Chidambaram), on Demands for Grants (2018-19) of the Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has taken exception to the low utilisation of allocated funds.
Fund utilisation under the Social and Infrastructure Development Fund (SIDF) was calculated at 29.3 per cent in 2015-16, 28.1 per cent in 2016-17 and 42.6 per cent in 2017-18.
In its action-taken notes on the report, the DoNER Ministry clarified that the poor utilisation during 2016-17 was due to non-submission of projects of bigger size by the State governments after scrapping of the projects identified earlier that had small envelope size. The DoNER Ministry added that the State governments have revisited their proposals and resubmitted projects of higher estimated cost subsequent to which the projects were identified against the fund available, and no balance fund was available for sanction for any more projects under the SIDF.
Expressing its disappointment that allocation under SIDF has been reduced during 2017-18, the committee strongly recommended that the ministry must furnish a detailed project-wise utilisation schedule of funds under SIDF and the steps taken to improve utilisation of funds, the report said.
Meanwhile, the panel was dismayed with the working of the Dima Hasao Territorial Council (DHTC) as the Council was unable to absorb the allocated fund for developmental activities. According to provisions of the memorandum of settlement, the Government of India agreed to provide a special package of Rs 200 crore (Rs 40 crore per annum) over and above the Plan fund, but Dima Hasao Council could spend only Rs 23.37 against the allocated Rs 40 crore.
The Secretary, Ministry of DoNER, submitted before the Committee that the allocated funds are available to the Council but the Council is not able to spend the allocated fund on the developmental activities.
The Committee also strongly recommended that DoNER Ministry must take a lead in coordinating with the Government of Assam for formulating infrastructure projects so that all DHTC proposals are submitted in time for final approval. The Committee further recommended that the Ministry must have appropriate monitoring mechanism to ensure speedy execution of projects so as to avoid any time and cost overrun.
The Committee, which also expressed its deep displeasure over the dismal performance of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC) due to low absorption capacity of funds, found that there were serious procedural lacunae in the functioning mechanism of both the Councils. Terming the inability of the Councils to absorb the allocated amount as �unfortunate�, the Panel strongly said that there is an urgent need for a robust coordination mechanism to expedite development process.