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NLCPR funds bring no succour to Northeast

 Unutilised funds for NE States under NLCPR in 2014-15, 2015-16 & 2016-17 stood at Rs 4,982 cr

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Aug 12: Limited working season, procedural delays and time lag in transfer of funds from the State treasury to implementing agencies have emerged as the biggest stumbling blocks towards proper utilisation of Central funds in the Northeast under the Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR).

According to an internal report of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), in the last three financial years alone – 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 – the amount of unspent NLCPR funds in the region stood at a whopping Rs 4,982 crore approximately. 

Out of the Rs 9,968.58 crore released to the NE States till 31st March 2015, Rs 1,820.67 crore remained unspent. Similarly, out of the Rs 10,636.08 crore released to the States of the region in 2015-16, Rs 1,764.05 crore remained unutilised. And in 2016-17, the fund released under NLCPR and the amount remaining unspent stood at Rs 11,297.66 crore and Rs 1,396.84 crore respectively. 

The matter assumes significance since the States of NE region perennially complain of fund draught to carry out development activities. 

Created in 1997-98 and operationalised in 1998-99, NLCPR is accrual of the unspent balance of the mandatory 10% budgetary allocation of Central Ministries/Departments. The broad objective of  NLCPR is to ensure speedy development of infrastructure by way of filling the existing infrastructural gaps – both economic and social – in the region by making funds available from the pool.

However, the amounts remaining unspent every year in the region despite being released by the Centre show how, despite the best of intentions, the ground situation hasn’t changed much for the better. 

Meanwhile, faced with such a situation, the DoNER Ministry has initiated certain measures to deal with the issue. These include “just-in-time release” of the first instalment under NLCPR by releasing only Rs 10 lakh as token amount and balance only at finalisation of tender, expediting submission of utilisation certificates, including online reports, extensive review meetings both in the Ministry and State Capitals and focus on completion of ongoing projects where subsequent instalments are linked to utilisation of released funds and commensurate physical progress in the projects. 

On the other hand, the NE States have also been found to be wanting in submitting priority list to the DoNER Ministry in time. For instance, priority list has not been submitted by any NE State in current financial year till July this year. And in 2016-17, only Assam had submitted the list containing 15 projects costing Rs 580.7 crore, of which 13 projects costing Rs 569.71 crore were retained and sanctioned under NLCPR. 

A total of 203 projects under NLCPR are at different stages of implementation in Assam. 

During the year 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, the Government of Assam had submitted priority list for 111 projects, 51 projects and 15 projects respectively. As cost of the proposals exceeded three times its normative allocation, the State government was requested to re-prioritise these projects and accordingly most of the re-prioritised projects have been retained and sanctioned. Some projects could not be sanctioned, including those pertaining to completion of balance works.

Meanwhile, the DoNER Ministry is claiming to have started reaching out to the States in a more proactive manner on the matter. As part of the process, various officials of the ministry regularly visit and camp in the State Capitals for expediting processing of reports and utilisation certificates by the State governments. The ministry is also in constant touch with the officials concerned of the State governments through video-conferencing and other IT tools like WhatsApp, SMSes and E-mails. 

Guidelines of the NLCPR have also been revised to incentivise faster completion of projects taken up under the scheme. 

Automation has been enabled by launching NLCPR project portal through which all the required documents from the State governments are received online in the ministry.

NLCPR AMOUNTS (RELEASED & UNSPENT) IN 2014-15, 2015-16 & 2016-17

State

Released amount (in crores)

Unspent amount (in crores)

Assam

Rs 7,046.13

Rs 1,527.81

Arunachal Pradesh

Rs 5,073.17

Rs 897.54

Manipur

Rs 3,566.22

Rs 532.87

Meghalaya

Rs 2,689.34

Rs 499.79

Mizoram

Rs 2,838.14

Rs 487.72

Nagaland

Rs 3,903.28

Rs 424.92

Sikkim

Rs 2,776.40

Rs 295.79

Tripura

Rs 4,009.04

Rs 315.12

 

 

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