Centre stops backward region grant to Hoshiarpur | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Centre stops backward region grant to Hoshiarpur

The district has suffered a major by the Centre's decision to discontinue the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) scheme. Funds released under the programme were used to fill critical gaps in local infrastructure and supplement ongoing development works. Hoshiarpur was the only district in the state which was selected under the plan on account of its backwardness and conformity to other parameters.

punjab Updated: Jul 03, 2015 19:32 IST
Harpreet Kaur
Hoshiarpur

The district has suffered a major by the Centre's decision to discontinue the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) scheme. Funds released under the programme were used to fill critical gaps in local infrastructure and supplement ongoing development works. Hoshiarpur was the only district in the state which was selected under the plan on account of its backwardness and conformity to other parameters.

Now, with the country moving towards decentralisation, this stopping of grants under the scheme could well be considered an adverse impact of the reviewed power-sharing between the states and the Centre.

The scheme stands de-linked from the Central aid and left to the state governments in case they want to implement it on their own. BRGF funds were used for the construction of Anganwadi centres, Panchayat Ghars, roads, health infrastructure and on several other local needs.

The newly-opened drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centre has also been completed with BRGF funds with Rs 2.28 crore being released for the purpose. The money under the scheme could be used on any other social or development activity by panchayats and urban local bodies.

A sum of Rs 1 crore was released annually for elected representatives and functionaries of the panchayati raj institutions and was meant to upgrade their knowledge and skills. Under the scheme, 80% of the funds were allocated to rural areas and the rest to the urban sector.

The scheme was launched in the district in 2007 but for the first two years the funds could not be availed due to the absence of a district planning committee (DPC) whose approval was mandatory under the Constitution for its clearance by the central
government agency.

In 2013-14 again, the funds lapsed as the state government failed to constitute a DPC. In 2009-10 and 2010-11, the district received funds to the tune of Rs 15.65 crore each. In 2011-12, Rs 14.5 crore were released and in 2012-13, Rs 12.04 crore were released. For the fiscal that ended on March 31, 2015, the government approved Rs 18.62 crore of which Rs 14.18 crore were released and the remaining amount was withheld.

The union Panchayati Raj ministry clarified that since the scheme had been shifted to the state, no more funds would be released by the Centre.

Former Union minister of state and former local MP Santosh Chowdhary lambasted the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for scrapping what she described was a flagship scheme of the UPA. "Whatever may be their (government's) justification, the beneficiaries have been left high and dry with the decision" she said.

"If the states were not implementing the plan earnestly, the Centre should have found means to plug the loopholes rather than withdrawing the scheme itself," she maintained.

Additional deputy commissioner (development) Harbir Singh said that certain works had to be left midway as funds were discontinued. "We keep getting queries and requests from the beneficiaries but it is for the governments to decide which schemes are to be adopted," he remarked.

FUNDS RELEASED EARLIER

The Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) funds were used for the construction of Anganwadi centres, Panchayat Ghars, roads, health infrastructure and on several other local needs.

The scheme was launched in the district in 2007 but for the first two years the funds could not be availed due to the absence of a district planning committee

In 2009-10 and 2010-11, the district received funds to the tune of Rs 15.65 crore each. In 2011-12, Rs 14.5 crore were released and in 2012-13, Rs 12.04 crore were released.

For the fiscal that ended on March 31, 2015, the government approved Rs 18.62 crore of which Rs 14.18 crore were released and the remaining amount was withheld.