Punjab local bodies department seeks funds due for central projects
The delay in transfer of central funds to the state mission directorate had already affected approval of State Annual Action Plan-III (SAAP-III) under AMRUT six months ago.punjab Updated: Jun 10, 2017 09:10 IST
Unable to give impetus to urban development projects due to alleged “diversion” of central grants by the previous regime, the Punjab local bodies department has urged the state government to release funds received from the Centre under Smart City Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) schemes.
The reason: Any new fund releases from the central government under the two programmes are tied to project progress and utilisation of sanctioned funds. Of the total outlay of about Rs 2,200 crore for projects under these schemes, the Union ministry of urban development sanctioned about Rs 400 crore for Smart City projects in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, and water supply and sewerage projects in the last two years.
FUNDS NOT RELEASED BY PREVIOUS GOVT
However, a major portion of the central funds and the state’s own corresponding share were not released by the then government to the department. “The finance department has been requested to release funds, as subsequent instalments under these projects are linked to transfer of funds to implementation agency, project progress and submission of utilisation certificate. Any diversion of central grants for purpose other than mission projects also affects release of grants,” said a senior department official, requesting anonymity.
The delay in transfer of central funds to the state mission directorate had already affected approval of State Annual Action Plan-III (SAAP-III) under AMRUT six months ago. The department submitted Rs 1,200-crore proposal to the ministry for 47 water, sewage and park projects. The apex body took up the proposal in its 14th meeting, but did not give approval. “The state government has not transferred 100% of central funds as well as state share in the past two years to the mission directorate,” sources said, citing minutes of the meeting. Of Rs 313 crore approved for the first two action plans, only Rs 37 crore were transferred.
Smart City and AMRUT are big-ticket urban renewal projects launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2015 with the objective of transforming the urban infrastructure burdened with ever-growing population across the country. The two projects were started by the central government with a total outlay of Rs 98,000 crore over five years.
The Centre has selected three cities – Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar – from the state covered under Smart Cities Mission and a number of water supply and sewerage projects have been approved under AMRUT, releasing funds on 50:50 centre-state sharing basis.
Last month, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government had derailed Smart City, AMRUT and other urban development projects by not releasing funds received from the Centre or the state share.
“The non-release of 85% of funds received from the centre to Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Company (PMIDC) has halted the progress of these projects,” he said, alleging diversion.