Only 50 per cent of funds allotted used

Substantial sums provided to civic bodies for solid waste management are remaining idle in banks for want of feasible projects and lack of initiative of the governing committees.

According to the latest report of the Local Fund Audit which reviewed the performance of civic bodies from 2009-10 to 2011-12, a vast majority of the urban and rural civic bodies could spend only around 50 per cent of the funds provided for refuse management.

The absorption rate during 2009-10 has been pegged at 54.13 per cent. Only 56.35 per cent of the grant-in-aid could be utilised in 2010-11. The situation was far from satisfactory in the subsequent year too.

Nominal component

The expenditure rate of panchayats was much below 50 per cent and a number of them had either not earmarked funds for solid waste management or utilised only a very nominal component of the funds at their disposal.

Put in banks

Even while facing the threat of an epidemic outbreak, the urban and rural civic bodies chose to park the funds allotted for setting up treatment plants in banks. This was in spite of the clearance from the Kerala State Pollution Control Board and financial assistance from the Suchitwa Mission.

Those civic bodies which expended huge sums for acquiring land and installing plants, could not efficiently operate the plants to get optimum results. Some of them had abandoned the projects midway. The cases of Kayamkulam, Alappuzha, Chalakkudy, Palakad, Tirur, Nilambur, Vadakara, Kannur and Neeleswaram municipalities have been cited as examples. Kannur had not taken any step for initiating the project and Neeleswaram had to stop it in the face of public protest. The plants in other municipalities were remaining idle due to other reasons that have not been effectively addressed, the report says.

Setting up of biogas plants has not succeeded as expected and the report places the onus on the civic bodies which have not yet evolved a system for effectively using it for street-lighting and other purposes. Even after spending crores of rupees for the project, it had not attained any tangible results. The lapses of the agencies which set up the plants has been pointed out as one of the main reasons. After collecting huge sums as advance from civic bodies, they abandon the projects, but the civic chiefs were unable to initiate action against them. For, the agreements they had made with the agencies were flawed, the report says.