J&K lagging in execution of Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has communicated his disappointment to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah over the poor execution of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), a flagship programme of the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, in his State.

The communication, which dents the Omar Abdullah government’s claims of performance and delivery, has been received by the Chief Minister’s Secretariat and forwarded to the Commissioner-Secretary of the Roads and Bridges Department, Tanvir Jehan, for her comments. Ms. Jehan told The Hindu on Saturday that “non-availability of Rs.710 crore for land compensation” was the major roadblock. “We have projected the demand before the high-level Central team in Jammu,” she said, and stressing that the State’s Rural Development Department was responsible for the PMGSY execution in Phase-I and Phase-II.

In his letter, Mr. Ramesh has pointed out that “delay in execution of the programme, improper monitoring, poor spending on creation and maintenance of assets and poor quality of works” was hitting the scheme badly in J&K. Even as the Ministry has sanctioned Rs.4,793 crore for execution of 1,886 roads covering a length of 9,606.63 km till November 2012, J&K had completed only 670 works covering 4,044.65 km with a total expenditure of Rs.1,862 crore, leaving a whopping Rs.2,531 crore unspent and a shortfall of 1,216 works and 4,562 km of road length.

Mr. Ramesh noted that at the end of the last financial year, too, there had been an unspent balance of Rs. 345 crore in J&K.

The Ministry has noted that J&K had been inordinately lagging behind even as a 5-year maintenance contract was in-built in the PMGSY execution. The State has reported to the Centre that just Rs.0.20-crore-worth maintenance funds were credited to the State Rural Road Development Agency (SRRDA) in 2012-13 as against the requirements of Rs.10.69 crore.

It has been pointed out that the maintenance expenditure of 80 per cent had been booked in 2009-10 but it had drastically dropped to just 3 per cent in 2010-11 and 14 per cent in 2011-12 when Chief Minister himself retained the R&B portfolio. “I need to point out that proper maintenance of the PMGSY assets will be seen as key to the continuance of the program in your State,” Mr. Ramesh cautioned the Chief Minister.

The reports of independent quality monitors, National Quality Monitors (NQMs) and State Quality Monitor (SQMs), have shown that quality of the roads “was not [up to] to the expected level”. “Extremely high number of unsatisfactory works” has been reported by NQMs (14 per cent at the ongoing stage and 44 per cent at the completion stage) in 2012-13.

The Minister also called attention to the poor Online Monitoring Management and Accounting System (OMMAS), calling it one of the strategic tools for purposeful monitoring and review of the programme.

“However I am constrained to mention that large data entry gaps still persist on the selected parameters. I would like to bring to your notice that these issues need to be addressed in order to meet the expectations.” He has also referred to delay in getting the SRRDA accounts for the year 2011-12 certified on the basis of the OMMAS.

Mr. Ramesh said: “No progress has been made in your State. I request you to direct the Department concerned to take immediate necessary action on the issues taken up so that your State will be able to absorb the funds likely to be available during 2013-14.”

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