Demanding the timely release of funds under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday faulted the Centre for providing “differential treatment [to Tamil Nadu] and discrimination against Tamil Nadu.”

In her letter to Union Minister of Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh, the Chief Minister said that even while Tamil Nadu, whose good track record of implementing the NRDWP had been hailed by him as a model for others to emulate, “was expecting an early release of funds based on the assurance given by you in the conference [of State Ministers and State Secretaries in May 2012], your letter of July 4, 2012 has come as a rude shock.”

This was more so in the context where for some other States which had a higher opening balance than Tamil Nadu, and whose expenditure level was almost on par with Tamil Nadu, as per the Ministry’s own Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) report, a substantial amount had been released during 2012-13.

“Such differential treatment and discrimination against Tamil Nadu leads me to wonder whether the release of funds is being done on a purely objective basis,” Ms. Jayalalithaa stated, requesting the Union Minister to ensure that the State’s first instalment of Rs. 138.58 crore was released without delay.

As for the release of funds under the NRDWP for 2012-13, the Chief Minister pointed out that the closing balance of funds under the Programme for Tamil Nadu was Rs.243.86 crore as on March 31, 2012. Of this amount, Tamil Nadu received Rs.58.33 crore on March 3, 2012 as an incentive fund for good performance based on Management Devolution Index.

An additional allocation of Rs.98.20 crore was received on April 4, based on Tamil Nadu’s good performance and considering the fact that the State had utilised more than 60 per cent of the available funds under the NRDWP. Accounting for a further sum of Rs.12.24 crore received under the NRDWP Calamity

Fund on April 4, a total sum of Rs.168.77 crore was received by Tamil Nadu in March and April, 2012.

Ms. Jayalalithaa stated that for the period from April 1 to date, the State had spent a sum of Rs.87.45 crore under the NRDWP – the Ministry’s IMIS data also showed the expenditure of Tamil Nadu as Rs.50.71 crore as on June 30, 2012.

She recalled that Tamil Nadu, which had also come in for high praise during the conference, was recommended as a model in accounting and auditing for other States to follow.

To press her case for early release of funds, the Chief Minister also pointed to Mr. Jairam Ramesh’s remarks at the conference that States should not be held responsible for NRDWP Funds released at the fag end of the earlier financial year, resulting in higher Opening Balance and directed that the first instalment be released to all eligible States by June 5, 2012.