Enmeshed in inefficiency, bureaucratic red tape and procedural issues involving centre-state relations, the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme is threatening to go bust — with more than 60 per cent of the total outlay — amounting to a whopping Rs 6268 crore remaining unutilised.
Ahead of the March 2009 deadline for the scheduled completion of the four-year rehabilitation program launched in 2005-06, state governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territories of Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) have sought timeline extension for completing planned projects that include construction of ports and jetties and multistoried tenements. At its fifth meeting last Friday, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) headed by Home Minister Shivraj Patil — which monitors implementation of rehabilitation work — rejected the appeal. Officials are not ruling out the possibility of the funds being allowed to lapse after the March 2009 deadline.
Official documents show that in the last three years since 2005-06, a combined amount of Rs 3554.56 crore has been spent in the five affected states and union territories – working out to roughly 39 per cent of the total outlay. During this period, Tamil Nadu spent Rs 1211.19 crore of its revised requirement of Rs 5298.50 crore; Kerala spent Rs 381.16 of its outlay of Rs 1689.75 crore; Andhra spent Rs 146.86 crore from its outlay of Rs 280.21 crore. These figures include funds spent from the relief component of the Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation Program (RGRP).
Logistics matters besides issues of land acquisition, environmental clearances and controversies in the rehabilitation operations are among reasons for the delay, a senior official said.