Amalgam demands high level probe to fix responsibility

Srinagar, April 11: Jammu and Kashmir Socio Economic Coordination Committee (JKSECC) has urged the state government to initiate a high level probe into the reported lapsing of over Rs 4000 crores of funds earmarked for developmental works in the previous fiscal owing to the inaction by various Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs)  besides officials of planning and finance departments.

In a meeting of JKSECC, an amalgam of various trade, industrial, travel, tour, tourism, horticulture, educational, contractors, pharmaceutical, houseboat, bakers, transport  and other civil society formations,  the members regretted that over 50% of the funds earmarked for the developmental works across the state had been lapsed at the end of recently concluded financial year for failure in timely utilization of funds by executing departments  and delayed approval and authorization by various administrative departments. 

Taking  strong note of the reports submitted the head of its constituent member JKCCC Mr.  Jeelani Purza,   the members of JKSECC expressed their concern and have thus demanded probe in this grave matter to fix responsibility followed by a stern action against the defaulting officers responsible for such huge lapsing of funds. 

It has been reported that a whopping amount of above 4000 Crores got lapsed in the previous year because of non-action by the DDOs and other officers at various levels of the administration and execution. The inaction on the part of officials has added to already created liabilities of over 1076 Crores payable to the contractors and other entrepreneurs since 2014. 

It has also been reported that planning and development department as well as Finance department first delayed approvals and physical release of funds and then  compounded their utilization  with issuance of irrational and impracticable stipulations and orders. 

As per the reports, in many cases,  the Finance department released funds to the concerned departments on 31st of March when the last date for submitting bills to the treasuries was fixed as 30th of March by the same department. 

“This malfunctioning on the part of concerned functionaries  with no accountability has led to collosal public inconvenience with abrupt halting of maintenance and development of public assets owing to an ugly confrontation between the government and contractors” observed the members. 

JKSECC,  in the larger public interest,   has sought immediate  intervention of the  Governor, his advisors and  chief Secretary in the whole matter in order to come up with details and defaults in funds lapsing cases along with the action taken by the government against erring officials.  

JKSECC aghast over suspension of development works

Pertinently, earlier this week, Jammu and Kashmir Socio Economic Coordination Committee (JKSECC) has expressed its deep concern over suspension of constructional and other developmental activities in the state due to the strike by the contractors for non payment of their dues by the government.

In a meeting of the amalgam, the members observed that halting of works have not only affected the ongoing projects but also the repairing of snow-damaged roads which have caused colossal public inconvenience. 

The members regretted that the Governor, his advisors and other government functionaries have miserably failed to put in serious efforts to end the month-long stalemate that continues with the strike and protests of contractors across the state. 

JKSECC has expressed its surprise over delay or denial of the due and legitimate payments to the local contractors and entrepreneurs by the government  against execution of their works. “Whereas the contractors from outside are being paid a portion of total cost of works in advance besides paying a substantial portion on dumping of material, the local contractors have no such payment schemes” observed the members with dismay. The non release of payments to the protesting contactors is being considered as impacting  the overall economic scenario  of the state. 

JKSECC demands immediate release of payments to the contractors out of the same corpus that has been created for completion of languishing projects. Under the “Delayed Payments Act” which is in force in the state,  entrepreneurs are also entitled  for interest for the period of delay by the government that  needs to take into account. 

JKSECC has also demanded an explanation from the government for actual utilisation  of funds earmarked for different projects and capital expenditure  in the previous year. The government needs to clarify whether any such funds have got lapsed and, if so, by whose fault.