Last week, as the Planning Commission okayed a Rs 25,000-crore annual plan for Maharashtra for developmental works n 2008-09, few realised that the state has failed to spend over half of its Rs 20,025-crore allocation for the current financial year.
Rs 11,082 crore of the allocation — meant to build roads, hospitals, dams, augmenting water supply, etc — was not utilised till January-end.
Ironically, on Tuesday, the state legislature approved an additional Rs 2,041 crore to meet the Governor’s household and tour expenses, among others, which had overshot budgetary provisions.
Among the worst performers in the state are the agriculture, women and child development, higher education, rehabilitation, public health, public works and power departments. All of them spent less than 35 per cent of their budgets in the first three quarters of the financial year.
“Maharashtra is unlikely to utilise more than 60 per cent of its development funds. It shows why it cannot solve the agriculture crisis, or augment infrastructure and power despite enough funds,” said a Finance Department official.
“This just shows bureaucrats’ lethargy. Unless departments get proactive and citizen-friendly, spending will not improve,” said state Planning Board Executive Chairman Ratnakar Mahajan.
Most department secretaries refused to go on record since the Assembly is in session, but many blamed the Finance Department for the mess. “The outlay was budgeted late in some cases and not at all in many cases. Unless money is allocated on time, how can we utilise it,” asked a senior bureaucrat.