Misson off-Track

After the Parliamentary Affairs Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Azam Khan, raised scam related issues in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), several irregularities in the scheme have suddenly started to come out in the public realm.
It is said that if JNNURM in UP had been completed on time, Rs. 1,080.628 crores could have been saved from the state government’s coffers. Under this Mission, construction was going on in 33 districts of UP, and barring the construction of sewerage in Agra and solid waste management plant in Kanpur, none of the works has been finished on time. Due to the delays the cost of these schemes went up by 20 per cent. The central government took a hard stand on this issue, and set a deadline of March 2012 to finish all the work. If the deadline was not met then the state government had to bear the extra cost.
The JNNURM was started by the central government in 2005. The UP government was asked to give a Detailed Project Report (DPR), keeping in mind the population in the next 30 years. A list of 33 schemes was send to the central government for construction of the drainage system, improving drinking water facilities, construction of sewerage treatment plants and waste management systems. The seven districts that were shortlisted for these schemes were Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Mathura, Meerut and Varanasi. The central government had sanctioned an amount of Rs. 5,403.14 crores for these schemes, and Rs. 2,048.36 crores are still to be released. It was agreed that 50 per cent of the cost will be funded by the central government and the other 50 per cent by the state government. But most of the construction work is still not complete, and the delays have pushed up the cost of the schemes.

There have been many cases where the guidelines of DPR were overlooked. In place of making proper drainage systems, pipes were used instead in many cases. Contractors were given benefits by employing substandard materials. During the construction of sewerage plants ordinary pipes were used in place of Indian Standard Institute (ISI) marked pipes. The contract for door-to-door waste collection was given to companies that were favoured by the state government.

The mission that was meant to improve the living standards in urban areas has not been implemented due to the inefficiency of the state government. And it will be interesting to see whether the Samajwadi Party knows only how to point finger at previous governments or whether it will take steps to make sure that the JNNURM runs properly in the state.

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