No Takers In Delhi For JK’s SOS

No Takers In Delhi For JK’s SOS

7 January 2014
Greater Kashmir
Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: With the state headed for “worst-ever” financial crisis due to withholding of plan funds by New Delhi, an official panel from JK, during its deliberations with the Planning Commission of India (PCI) Tuesday, pleaded for expeditious release of Rs 2064 crore Special Plan Assistance (SPA). However, according to sources privy to the meeting, the State delegation didn’t get any assurance about release of the funds from PCI. While inordinate delay in release of funds has forced the state government to slash plan funds meant for developmental works and payment of salaries, the meeting deliberated upon the operational requirements regarding the release of SPA. Sources said JK’s official panel comprising Principal Secretary Finance BB Vyas, Principal Secretary Planning & Development Department (P&DD) BR Sharma and Director P&DD S Bilal sought release of the financial grant at earnest citing that developmental works have taken a big hit in the state. “During the meeting, we told PCI that funds should be released in tranches as soon as we submit the requisite details regarding the SPA projects,” a state official, who was part of the meeting, told Greater Kashmir. He termed the meeting was an “operational one” to discuss the formalities for availing the assistance. “It was agreed that details regarding these projects would be submitted in the revised format in the wake of PCI facing some technical problems,” he claimed. The official admitted that withholding of funds by PCI has caused major fiscal problems for JK in the election year. “It is a fact that developmental works have taken a hit due to non-release of the funds,” the official said. Earlier, in November last year the government restricted the utilization of pan funds - both Revenue (salary and allied expenses) and capital (developmental works) components - to 75 percent in the wake of explicit directions from the Finance Department. Apart from withholding the release of normal plan funds, the government has given departments-districts authorization for use of only 50 percent of SPA grant approved for the State during the plan finalization meeting in July last year. Since beginning of the current financial year, the PCI has put the JK government in tight spot by withholding major component of the plan funds. First there was inordinate delay in plan finalization and the meeting for the same matured only in July last year. Then the Commission created more embarrassing situation for JK by approving annual plan of Rs 7300 crore - Rs 700 crore less than the projection made by the State. The more discomfiture for the ruling National Conference- Congress coalition came to fore recently when Government of India revealed that JK was the only State with zero percent increase in annual plan this fiscal while other states got considerable step-up in the plan size. Repeated attempts to get government version over the issue, proved futile as Principal Secretary Planning B R Sharma didn’t pick up the phone.