Rajouri: A Crash Course In Development

Apart from the two cities of Jammu and Srinagar, J&K lives in 20 districts which are the basic administrative and developmental units. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) started auditing the fund flow and implementation of schemes to the districts with Rajouri becoming the first one to be visited by its auditors for the five year period 2004-09. Kashmir Life reproduces the main findings and the suggestion about where districts fall in J&K’s ‘great development’ story.

PLANNING: The district lacks any long term plan. The district development board (DDB) approves the yearly action plan developed by rural development department as other departments execute their own plans not necessarily approved by DDB. No district planning committee in place to evolve a perspective plan and no coordinated planning. The district administration even skips monitoring schemes sponsored by state and central governments.

FINANCES:
Chief planning officer lacked data and records about the total fund flow to the district and the expenditure incurred for the five years ending 2008-09. Funds received directly from central government were shown utilized but CAG says “the bulk of such funds may not have been spent on various purposes for which they had been released.

”CAG auditors arranged details of the fund flow to seven departments. For five years it was Rs 694.95 crores for these departments against which they had booked an expenditure of Rs 712.56 crores!A test check in four departments suggested an expenditure of Rs 31.37 crores of which Rs 23.74 crores was administrative expenses and the balance Rs 7.63 crores on development.

Understanding the expenditure systems of five other departments, the CAG found 40-53 percent of the money being disbursed in the month of March. The rush for expenditure was attributed to belated release of funds.

RELIEF: Pakistani shelling in 2001 forced 1834 families migration to Rajouri from Nowshehra. Government released Rs 26 lakh for relief. By 2007, Rs 19.48 lakh was still with the DC unspent. For rebuilding 336 affected houses, the fund requirement was Rs 74.76 lakh. The government released Rs 55.28 lakh. Not a penny is spent as DC is waiting for relief norms!

EDUCATION: In five years (2004-09) the number of primary schools jumped from 807 to 1113. In the same period, however, the enrolment fell by 22 percent from 14754 to 11432. The middle schools increased to 412 from 253 and the enrolment surged marginally by 2.4 percent.

Officials attributed the fall to family planning! While the pass percentage of students appearing for eighth class was between 68 and 79 percent for the five years period, it significantly nosedived in matriculation and the twelfth standard examinations being conducted by the state board of school education. For matriculation it varied between 26 and 41 percent.

In 2008, 13 out of 107 high schools had zero pass percentage. At twelfth level it further fell to hover between 19 and 34 percent. For the mid-day meal scheme, the district was entitled to 6734 tons of food grains against which it was allotted 5705 tons.

The district lifted 4944 tons and ended up consuming only 4665 tons in five year period. It required Rs 10.63 crores as cooking cost was given only Rs 8.61 crores and ended up spending Rs 7.11 crores only.

Interestingly, there are no kitchen sheds in 24 percent of its primary schools and 32 percent middle schools. In fact 86 percent of primary schools and 70 percent of middle schools have no drinking water facility. Chief Education Officer has shown spending Rs 69.58 crores on the mid day meal scheme for five years. It included Rs 10.06 crores that is lying in the bank account!

WATER SUPPLY
: In three years (ending March 2009), the district (under district plan) took up 102 schemes at a cost of Rs 125.80 crores but ended up implementing only 24. Under Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme 72 schemes were taken up in four years ending March 2007 but only 16 were implemented.
ROADS: The district spent Rs 110.84 crores in five years ending March 2009 that helped taking the road length in the district from610.51 kms to 845-40 kms – an addition of 234.89 kms. But CAG says it did not help connect either of the 151 villages that were off the roads in 2004-05.

Under PMGSY, the district took up 23 rural roads with a cumulative length of 163.40 kms at a cost of Rs 67.92 crores between March 2005 and 2008. By now 13 road projects stands abandoned after booking an expenditure of Rs 12.16 crores. So far only five projects have been completed at a cost of Rs 3.61 crores.
INDUSTRY: Since 1984 the district is the proud owner of an industrial estate having 54 developed plots.

CAG found out that 10 were used for bonafide purposes, 13 have either been sold or sublet and were used as stores, 4 plots have unauthorized residential constructions, non-industrial business is being conducted on 4 plots, 14 plots lay vacant for 7 to 19 years. In fact 12 plots stand converted into six plots.

FORESTS: Of the 130985 hectors of the forests – almost half of the total geographic area of the district – 2748.56 hectors is encroached upon by March 2009.The department spent Rs 39.07 crores on planting 8.39 lakh plants in five years ending march 2009. With a mortality of 28 to 60 percent, it could not achieve anything substantial in compensatory afforestation.

Rojouri: An introduction
Carved out of Poonch in 1968, Rajouri is located on Pir Panchal foothills. It is bounded by Udhampur and Jammu in east, Poonch on west and Pulwama in north. A mix of slopes and plains, Rajouri grows paddy, maize, wheat, pulses, oil seeds, fodder and off late, mushroom and honey as well.
Area:            2630 sq kms
Population:    619266 (making 4.93% of J&K population)
Males:           332424
Females:       286842
Growth:         28.14% over the numbers it had in 2001
Literacy rate: 68.54
Males:          78.39
Females:      57.2
Forest cover: 1310 sq kms

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