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The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pulled up the government for releasing only half the funds allocated for the flagship JNNURM scheme, leading to a tardy implementation of urban infrastructure projects and housing schemes under the mission between December 2005 and March 2011.
The rate of completion of the approved infrastructure projects during the period was a dismal 18% while that of the housing projects was even more deplorable at 1.5%.
In its performance audit report tabled in Parliament on Thursday, the CAG said the Centre released only R32,934.59 crore for various projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM) until March 2011 against the Planning Commission's allocation of R66,084.66 crore. “There were delays in releasing these funds to the states and the guidelines did not contain any directions to stipulate the time in which such releases should be made,” the CAG report said. The flow of funds also showed that there was a rush of expenditure in the last quarter and particularly in the month of March.
Though the auditor hasn't alleged any scam in JNNURM as it did for allocations of 2G spectrum and coal blocks, the latest report is yet another blow to the government that is showcasing various flagship schemes aimed at helping the poor and policy action to scale up infrastructure investments to revive the economy.
After coming to power, the UPA launched JNNURM in December 2005 to improve infrastructure in cities for a total investment of R1 lakh crore, with the Centre promising to fund half of it. Blaming local urban bodies equally for the tardy progress in JNNURM, CAG said “in most states, it was observed that the ULB share was either not released or was less than the stipulated amount”.
Of the 1,517 housing projects earmarked under JNNURM, CAG observed that only 22 were completed by end March 2011. Pointing to lapses in implementing the projects, the auditor said “there beneficiaries had not been identified in few cases, and there were deficiencies in the process of selection of beneficiaries leading to the risk of ineligible beneficiaries getting benefits of JNNURM”. In case of urban infrastructure projects, only 231, or 18%, of the 1,298 projects were completed by March 2011, CAG said adding “a few cases of unauthorised and irregular expenditure and even instance of undue favour to contractors also came to light”.