Nearly half of Rs.208 crore remains unutilised

Unless the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation exempts Thiruvananthapuram, a good share of the funds allotted under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for the city may go underutilised.

Certain slum development projects under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) programme of the Mission have been hanging fire. As the deadline of March 2014 fast approaches, the city Corporation is left with little choice but to request the Union government to let it redirect the funds for projects that are practical and can be realised in the limited span of time.

Officials with the BSUP wing of the Corporation say redirecting funds to specific activities, such as the construction of anganwadis and community centres, where land is available near slum colonies, or distributing Rs.2 lakh each to beneficiaries for constructing houses, is the only viable option. This way, the Corporation can not only eliminate the risk of cost escalation if it takes up construction but also disburse funds without worrying about it being lapsed.

No changes in DPR

For Thiruvananthapuram, a total of Rs.208 crore was allocated in 2007-2008 for specific projects listed in the Detailed Project Report (DPR) submitted by the Corporation and the State nodal agency, the Kudumbasree Mission. Of this close to Rs.100 crore remains to be spent. As per the guidelines formulated by the Central government, if any revision needed to be made to the initial DPR, the changes should have been brought to the notice of the Ministry on or before March 2012. But at that time, no changes in the DPR was submitted since the respective area councillors had promised that there would not be any trouble in executing the projects.

Delays

Issues such as local opposition, delay or lack of means to relocate people during the construction phase, and realisation at a later stage that some of the colonies selected for the project were situated on private properties have led to delays. For instance, the slum development at Thycaud, for which Rs.10 crore was earmarked in the DPR of 2007, could not be taken up because of local opposition.

A Kudumbasree official said that a letter had been sent to the Ministry two months ago on the issue, but an encouraging response on the submission of a revised report was yet to come. The Union government should reconsider the already expired deadline of 2012, owing to the justifiable realities here, he said.