The Andhra Pradesh government seems to have unwittingly attracted the attention of the Central government for its all-out efforts to organise the just-concluded Krishna Pushkarams on an extravagant scale.
A whopping Rs.1,600 crore had been spent for the event of religious significance which attracted close to Rs. 2 crore people within and outside the State for a holy dip at pushkar ghats in Krishna, Guntur, and other districts.
The Krishna Pushkarams, coming about a year after the Godavari Maha Pushkarams, which was marred by the unfortunate stampede on the first day, was no doubt taken as a challenge, and meticulous planning went into every aspect this time by using Information Technology tools for constant monitoring and swift action on the feedback received from time to time.
Pleased over the smooth conduct of the river festival, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu not only placed his appreciation for the team work and coordination shown by different departments but also called for a meeting in the next few days to talk about the measures that paid off and document them so that they would serve as learning tools for others and become a manual for future events.
This is the positive impact of the Pushkarams.
The mega event organised by spending over Rs.1,600 crore, a year after spending Rs.1,800 crore for the Godavari Pushkaram, is what has given ground for criticism too, and some senior officials have no justification to the posers from GoI officials, who wondered how could a cash-strapped State could be so liberal in its expenditure.
According to government sources, the financial position of the State continues to be difficult as, in the last five months, the revenue deficit has already touched Rs. 4,000 crore.
While a part of the Pushkaram expenditure did go for permanent assets like roads and power, a major part of expenditure was for construction of ghats and other temporary structures for providing amenities to pilgrims.
Many of such works would fail to pass the quality muster, as works would have to be executed against deadlines.
“The revenue is growing at 10 per cent, which is not bad, but the expenditure has shot up by 26 per cent in these five months. This is the mismatch, and it can be curtailed only with financial prudence and prioritising the expenditure,” the sources emphasised.