PACKAGING POLITICS

– projects that state has already transferred to it. When completed these projects would continue to be owned by the NHPC with state getting 12 percent royalty of the generation.

The plan was divided into three sectors. Projects worth Rs. 6053.90 crore formed the state sector to be implemented by the state. Part one of the central sector worth Rs. 5870.94 crore was given to the state government for implementation and the balance Rs. 19055.72 crore that were part two of the central sector were given to the respective central agencies for implementation.

After 58 months of being announced, the total expenditure in all the sectors was Rs. 6754.82 crore – only 22.55 percent. Projects worth nearly 19000 crore are literally untouched. The ‘offensive’ reportage – even in the ignorant J&K media – that the central bureaucrats are flying to ask their Srinagar subordinates why they have failed to deliver was more hoax than a reality.

New Delhi had released Rs. 3481.59 crore to implement Rs. 6053.90 crore state sector projects and the expenditure was to the tune of Rs. 2874.78 crore – a 47.48 percent achievement. But these state sector projects make merely 19.54 percent of PMRP.

Against the fund availability of Rs. 1364.42 crore for the Rs. 5870.94 crore project (forming 18.94 percent of PMRP) falling in category-II; state government has booked the expenditure of Rs. 873.85 crore – a 14.88 percent achievement.

“The state government is responsible for implementing 38.49 percent of the PMRP and we have already achieved 31.43 percent target,” a senior government functionary said. “Why the central government agencies have no matching performance?” Implementation of the category–III projects forming 61.51percent of the PMRP is worst. Of Rs. 19055.72 crore, so far only Rs. 3006.21 crore stands spent – 15.77 percent achievement.

But this all would not satisfy the policy makers in Srinagar and Jammu. They would still love to have another package when Dr Singh lands here. They along with the politicians of all hues here are unwilling to be part of a debate over why should J&K need a package? Packages usually are corrections when normal devolutions and established mechanisms fail. Why can not state’s yearly plan be increased enough to take care of the special needs?

On central devolutions, over the years, three parallel systems have emerged – the Finance Commission, the Planning Commission and more recently the ministries packed with central sponsored schemes. As state’s own resources go to fund J&K’s surging revenue requirements (salaries, pensions, establishment, interest on loans), the only source for development is the centre. One needs to have a very strong lobby in Delhi to get maximum of the funds under CSS, now the main bread and butter of the states. “We have had representatives in Delhi always but the tragedy is that most of the devolutions they manage, goes to the districts they belong to,” admitted a senior officer. “We hope that Dr Abdullah corrects the record.”

There is another problem. Sizeable chunk of central funds are tied at source – specific amount for specific works at approved places. “In a Rs. 5500 crore plan for the current fiscal, Rs. 3369 crore are tied leaving only Rs. 2131 crore for the state,” a senior official in the finance ministry said. “With over Rs. 1000 crore going to fund district plans, not much is left with the state government to take up any project.”

This devours the flexibility for the state government to spend. Barring sending utilization certificates (UC’s), the state finance ministries are literally the outposts of the union finance minister – twelfth man in a cricket team. This may or may not be all right in other states but in J&K this is a major concern because here every unionist wants either autonomy or self rule. Approved funding reached a climax this year when the Planning Commission gave J&K the highest ever plan as advance to the future developmental devolutions, a ridiculous record of sorts!!!!

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