April 03, 2017
The Himachal Pradesh state secretariat of the Communist Party of India Marxist CPI(M) has strongly condemned the state governments inept functioning which has now been fully corroborated even by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report. This functioning has not just shown poor governance but also affected the people at large in both social and economic benefits that could have accrued because of adept governance. The report elaborately speaks about the fraud/ misappropriation of public funds which is shown rampant in Himachal Pradesh. Despite several reminders from the AG the state government has not shown any interest in preparing a plan for the advance payments utilization. The state government was asked to adopt the mode of abstract contingent (AC) bills and subsequent submission of detailed countersigned bills (DC) , which is prevalent elsewhere . However, the government has not done that. Similarly, the state government was extremely sluggish in getting the works done rapidly and getting the Utilization certificates (UCs) for further getting the grants from the central government in many of the developmental projects. Interestingly the report points out to a whopping 17826 UCs awaited with an amount of Rs 4837.67 crores that has been detrimental at the developmental activities in the state. The report has also castigated and in a way shown the government’s attitude towards the disaster preparedness in the state. Not only the state government has contributed less towards its share of 90:10 but has also not been able to utilise the funds from the centre thus putting the people at a greater risk for risk preparedness and adaptability. This will force the state for greater vulnerability and susceptible for disasters. There has been a scathing attack by the CAG on the social general and economic sectors which has torn aside the so called pro people outlook of the government. The CAG has commented on a large number of areas but just to point out a few which bears immense importance for the state social infrastructure the CPIM would like to mention as: 1. Environment clearance and post clearance monitoring which is so important for the state owing to fragile eco system has been given a hind seat. The institutional mechanisms and procedures for environment impact assessment and identification of environmental concerns as well as monitoring and enforcement of mitigation measures was weak. Accordingly “The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA)/ State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) and State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)lacked adequate manpower for scrutiny and this contributed to delay in grant and renewal of environment clearances (EC) resulting in some projects continuing to operate without the pre-requisite ECs. Neither SEIAA nor SPCB had regularly monitored compliance with conditions of the EC of the projects and some project proponents had not fulfilled the commitments made in the environment impact assessment reports/ EC letters”. 2. One of the most important intervention and direction that the CAG has given is with respect to the integrated water shed management. The report states about the clear intent of the government to not to prioritise this area and leading to what the report calls as a complete failure. The report states, “A performance audit conducted in Rural Development Department of the implementation of the programme during period 2011-16 brought out deficient planning and slow pace of utilization of funds and perspective plan and annual action plans being prepared without inputs from field functionaries resulting in IWMP projects overlapping with those taken up under other programmes and non-release of funds by Government of India”. The report further states that the perspective plan was prepared (January 2009) at State level without considering block and district level watershed development plans. Against 5.91 lakh hectares of land required to be treated during 2009-16, only 0.86 lakh hectares (15 per cent) was treated as of March 2016. And this confirms for the ineptness of both the BJP and Congress governments. Only 38 to 87 per cent of available funds remained unutilised with the State Level Nodal Agency during 2011-16. Government of India did not release any funds during 2014-15 under IWMP due to inability of the Department to spend the required 60 per cent funds during 2013-14. This shows the commitment of the state government towards the important sector of agriculture and horticulture which has a direct linkage. The CPIM has stated the government is busy in politically protecting itself from the misdemeanours committed in the past and hence did not devote ample time for proper governance and the orientation of both the elected and the executive has never been the ‘people’.