N.J. Nair

For lapses in spending and achieving target

State told to utilise the fund within two months

Achievements not commensurate with spending

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The National Horticulture Mission (NHM) has chided the State Horticulture Mission (SHM) for its lapses in spending the sanctioned fund worth Rs.75.28 crore in time and failure to achieve the target set for various components, including creation of water resource, bio-control laboratories and pack houses.

The State government has been directed to utilise the fund within two months, failing which, it will have to refund the unspent amount to the Centre. Going by the pace of execution of the projects, the State is likely to lose the fund, sources said.

The SHM received a rap on its knuckles at a review meeting chaired by Union Additional Secretary S.M. Desalphine at Krishi Bhavan in New Delhi on August 23. The funds were sanctioned on the basis of the projects submitted by the SHM for increasing the area of cultivation for fruits and rejuvenating the existing crops, mainly spices.

The meeting also pointed out that the physical achievements posted on the website were not commensurate with the financial expenditure on a variety of components. The meeting reviewed the progress in implementing the projects of the mission and also micro irrigation schemes in the State and said it was far from satisfactory.

While SHM director K.S. Anilkumar attended the meeting, the officers dealing with micro irrigation schemes were not present. Mr. Desalphine said, “no progress was achieved against the targets given in respect of a number of components such as rehabilitation of TC (tissue culture) units, seed infrastructure, coverage under cut and loose flower, creation of water resource, protected cultivation, bio control labs, leaf tissue analysis labs and pack houses.” Mr. Desalphine also asked the Agriculture Production Commissioner to attend the review meeting to sort out the processing problems.

Official sources told The Hindu that the SHM was directed to step up the pace of implementation and utilise Rs.75.28 crore by September itself. It will have to provide crop-wise details of the area covered by horticultural crops under the NHM since 2005-06. However, no significant follow-up action was taken even after the meeting for exhausting the funds in a scientific manner, sources said.

It was also cited that there has been no takeoff under the micro irrigation scheme and efforts should be made within the next few months to achieve the target. The SHM will have to submit the audited statement of accounts for 2005-06 and 2006-07 and it should match with the expenditure reported, advance drawn and interest accrued. This direction has been given in view of the utilisation of interest for routine expenses of the officers, sources said.