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  1. Narendra Modi’s grand schemes are ‘failing’ on the ground? Parliamentary panel blames funding woes, poor planning

Narendra Modi’s grand schemes are ‘failing’ on the ground? Parliamentary panel blames funding woes, poor planning

The parliamentary report warns that Narendra Modi’s "well-meaning" projects "will remain a distant dream" if they receive only "meager" funds.

By: | New Delhi | Published: March 20, 2018 12:11 PM
narendra modi Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the gathering at Krishi Unnati Mela, in New Delhi on Saturday (17 March 2018). PTI Photo /PIB

India’s flagship government initiatives have barely spent any of the money allocated to them, a parliamentary committee has reported, raising questions about the on-the-ground implementation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most high profile national programs.

Although India’s government insists the figures are wrong, a report from the parliamentary standing committee on urban development said Modi’s six top infrastructure initiatives spent on average just 21 percent, or $1.2 billion, of the $5.6 billion allocated.

India’s “Smart Cities” program, which Modi has championed, used just 1.8 percent of the funds released to it, the committee said, or just $28 million of a dedicated $1.5 billion. Other programs to build affordable housing, as well as sewage and drainage facilities, used less than 30 percent of the available funds, the report said.

The central government releases funds to India’s states to roll out the initiatives, but the committee said India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had “not made realistic projections or proper planning.” Despite the ambitious-sounding goals of some of the programs — such as providing “housing for all,” or ending “open defecation” across India — they suffer from a lack of proper funding, as well as “slack implementation,” the committee said.

“They’re coming up with all these grand schemes,” Pinaki Misra, an opposition lawmaker from a regional party and chair of the standing committee, said in an interview. “Too much has been promised, by way of too many projects, with too many fancy acronyms, that haven’t really been thought through.”
Official Spending

The government rejects that view. The small spending amounts in the report don’t accurately reflect construction work being done, said Rajeev Jain, a spokesman for the housing and urban affairs ministry.

Funds are only considered officially spent once all the work is completed and project managers have sent back “utilization certificates” proving they have spent the cash, Jain said, adding project managers have up to two years to do so, leading to delays.

“It’s not a barometer of the implementation of the project,” Jain said. “The payment to a company that is implementing a project is only made when the work is completely over.”

So far, $3.7 billion worth of projects have been “completed or started,” Jain said.

‘Meager Funds’

Misra, who leads the urban affairs standing committee, said the ministry was “trotting out the usual excuses” by blaming bureaucratic delays in accounting for spent funds.

“It’s an age-old gambit when the center doesn’t want to release funds because they don’t have funds,” he said.
Initiative Purpose Funds released Funds spent Swachh Bharat, or Clean India Promotes clean streets and toilet-construction to end “open defecation” $899 million $341 million Smart Cities City improvement projects $1.5 billion $27.9 million Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Upgrading water, sewer, drainage infrastructure $1.3 billion $381 million Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Housing for all Affordable housing for the poor $1.5 billion $319 million Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission Skills training for urban poor $233 million $130 million Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana Conservation of heritage cities $38 million $5 million

The parliamentary report warns that Modi’s “well-meaning” projects “will remain a distant dream” if they receive only “meager” funds.

In India, where the central government must cooperate with the states, “national transformative projects” such as Modi’s smart cities and Clean India initiatives will take time to implement, said Jaijit Bhattacharya, a consultant and adjunct professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.

The smart cities program involved a competition supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, which was started by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

“One cannot pass a diktat forcing people to use toilets. It has to be through persuasion, and that takes time,” Bhattacharya said. “However, it is also important that the government machinery actually implements the projects in an honest manner. It is too early to note whether the projects are getting implemented appropriately.”

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  1. Mallikarjun J Iyyer
    Mar 20, 2018 at 5:23 pm
    no one denies aadhaar compliance is good or bad the worst part is its implementation. Already i spent a lot of time and yet many BFCs have failed to implement a smooth process. For example, some thing like SBI life insurance, has asked me for repeated compliance through mail, sms even after submitting in person. Everyone knows SBILIF, a semi-govt. org. Such is the case. And then the govt. has the temerity or lack of knowing the ground reality, actually PAN is compulsory for opening bank a/c even before this govt. came. and this govt calls for connecting PAN/voter with aadhaar. Many aadhar were made from either PAN/VOTERid perhaps the govt is ignorant. And all this catching some economic offender and unfrotunately most friends of this and previous govt. are enjoying foreign holidays and common man/daily wage earners have to suffer wasting time applying for unpaid leave. Over that fear of losing in a widely ungrowing or never to grow unemployment market for next 10 yrs. Tamasha
    Reply
    1. Mallikarjun J Iyyer
      Mar 20, 2018 at 5:14 pm
      complacent people's representatives can accelerate the process by being conscious and aware of the ground realities and remain touch with grass root workers and keep their boat sailing if only the had service to the society in their minds when they were elected and all these funds spend and projects implemented. Unfortunately, more than 30 per cent of the people representatives are either just statues with life in the them to serve either parties political/caste/language and every kind of available extraneous interests beyond the at ude of service to people. Govt. think a well meaning program from either univ/iits/iims hollow professionals will me made, advt, seek publicity and then realize that the ground realities are diffe . Toilets in rural areas are a disaster inspite whatever the govt. claims. They are available but usage is any1's guess. Similar is the fate of all the programs. Then the procedural bug and one which has been created by govt. like aadhaar/pan complince, etc.
      Reply

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