GUWAHATI, Feb 15 � The Assam Government may find itself in serious trouble in the days to come as the Government of India has already warned all the States to maintain strict discipline and to ensure utilization of the Central funds on time. For years, the Assam Government has not been able to utilize the Plan funds on time and majority of the works departments of the Government also fail to submit the utilization certificates.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that because of the failure of the Assam Government to generate its own resources, the State has to wait for receiving funds from the Centre to start implementation of the Centrally-sponsored and Plan fund schemes, which often delays the implementation of the projects. Sources said that the Plan allocations are often finalized in June or July and this delays the whole process of implementation of the schemes. After receiving the allocations, the Planning and Development Department seeks detailed projects from the concerned works departments and then the same are sent to the Finance Department. But the State Finance Department also fails to release funds on time and by the time the concerned departments receive the first installment of funds, at least six to seven months of the financial year elapse. Under the circumstances, it is almost impossible for any department to complete the projects on time.
Sources said that delay in implementation of the projects often leads to cost escalation and the projects cannot be completed with the funds earmarked for it. That is why, there have been instances where bridges were constructed but those could not be used as the approach roads could not be completed. Moreover, for years, submission of the utilization certificates was not a priority of the Assam Government. During the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre, the Prime Minister always took a lenient view in case of Assam. Even in case of the non-lapsable pool of Central funds, the Assam Government has not been able to submit the utilization certificates for years and there is always a backlog of about five years.
Sources said that being a special category State, Assam receives most Central funds as 90 per cent grant, while majority of the States of the country receives such funds as only 50 per cent grant. However, the accountability of the States receiving only 50 per cent grant is much more in utilization of the funds and submission of utilization certificates.
Official sources pointed out that the advanced States, which could generate their own resources, start implementing the projects with their own funds without waiting for the Central funds and that is why they can complete the projects on time. Moreover, the States having much lower population than Assam used to get much more plan fund than Assam because of their ability to generate own resources. Interestingly, for quite some time, the Assam Government also failed to implement the plan allocations on time, but as the former Prime Minister was taking a lenient view on Assam, the State continued to receive increased allocations in the last few days.