The Centre has been able to utilise only 22% of the funds allocated for the execution of six flagship schemes under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, according to a report by a Parliamentary Standing Committee headed by Pinaki Mishra. The schemes are the Smart Cities Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), National Urban Livelihood Mission and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).

The report has taken strong exception to the severe under-utilisation of funds allocated for the enforcement of the aforementioned schemes and has asked the ministry to get its act together and address the problems. The ministry, headed by Hardeep Puri, has come under flak for the slow progress of these schemes.

The report on demand for grants for 2018-19 said it was concerned to find that the actual utilisation of funds stood at 21.6%, or Rs 7,850.72 crore, out of Rs 36,194.39 crore released for the six flagship schemes since their launch. A total of Rs 48,548.64 crore was meant to be allocated to the schemes, but the funds were not released, the report said.

The report said: “At this pace, the realisation of almost all six flagships programmes would remain a distant dream in reality”.

The utilisation of funds for AMRUT scheme, which aims to provide water supply, sewerage and drainage facilities to 500 cities, was Rs 2,480.43 crore—only 28.74% of the total amount allocated. The committee, in its report, noted, with dismay, “that the data regarding sewage treatment plants is not being maintained under AMRUT”. “Moreover, the futility of lakhs of toilets being constructed without proper provision for septage, sewerage and drainage is too glaring a question mark on the mission,” the report said.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government utilised only Rs 2,223.22 crore, or 38.01%, against Rs 5,847.92 crore released under the scheme. In the case of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the state spent Rs 2,080.52 crore, which was only 20.78% of the total funds released. Similarly, for the Smart Cities Mission, the utilisation stood at Rs 182.62 crore, or a meagre1.83% of the total Rs 9,943.22 crore.

The HRIDAY scheme, which is aimed at preserving and revitalising the soul and unique character of heritage cities in the country, was launched on 21 January 2015, with a total outlay of Rs 500 crore. The scheme is being implemented in 12 identified cities of Ajmer, Amaravati, Amritsar, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni and Warangal. Against an allocation of Rs 150 crore made in 2016-17, Rs 141.55 crore was released for projects under the scheme. But only 54.3% of funds were released till December 2017.

However, the utilisation of funds under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) was better. The scheme, which focuses on organising the urban poor into self help groups and helping them to set up self-employment ventures by ensuring easy and subsidised credit, utilised Rs 293.62 crore out of Rs 299 crore allocated in 2016-2017. Similarly, out of Rs 349 crore allocated to the implementation of the scheme in 2017-18, 95.81% was utilised till December 2017.

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