Staff Reporter

Only 35% of Plan funds utilised so far

Efforts on to

kick-start delayed

projects

Delay by TAG in granting clearance held up projects

KOZHIKODE: With only 35 per cent fund utilisation so far in the current Plan period, the district panchayat is racing against time to kick-start long-delayed projects and ensure that the funds for 2009-10 do not lapse.

K. Chandran, chairman of the district panchayat’s standing committee on development, said 75-80 per cent fund-utilisation rate was still achievable, though hardly 55 days remained.

With an outlay of Rs.18.81 crore for the current financial year, the district planning officials are pinning their hopes on the EMS Housing Scheme, various road maintenance works, construction of school buildings and local water supply projects to boost the fund utilisation drive. District Planning Officer S. Rajashekharan said the projects would take at least a year for completion, but starting them in the current financial year would ensure that the funds do not lapse.

To date, approval has been granted to two grama panchayats to start work on the EMS Housing Scheme. While one grama panchayat has submitted that it does not require funds under the EMS Housing Scheme, approval for the plans submitted by the other 75 panchayats is expected next week, Mr. Rajashekharan said.

The EMS scheme will utilise the services of unskilled labourers who will be paid wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to improve fund utilisation for the Union government’s flagship programme, which now provides an average 17 work-days a year compared to 12 days in 2008-09.

Mr. Chandran said the low fund utilisation, almost every year, was due to the delay on the part of the State-level Technical Advisory Group (TAG) in granting approval for projects. For 2009-10 financial year, the District Planning Committee had submitted projects by August, but approval from the TAG for most projects came only in October-November, 2009 with several rejected projects being forwarded to a Co-ordination Committee to resolve the dispute. The tendering process also faced delays as contractors did not evince interest, Mr. Chandran said.

“The district panchayat will submit project proposals for next year by the end of February for getting the approval of the TAG and start work by April 1 itself,” said Mr. Chandran.

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