Hyderabad: Urban areas in the state have inadequate infrastructure despite the availability of funds. Funds sanctioned by the Central and state governments for the improvement of civic infrastructure in urban areas remain unspent. Such is the apathy that funds sanctioned years ago by the Centre’s 13th and 14th Finance Commissions still lie unused. While urban residents face hardships due to poor civic infrastructure such as bad roads, lack of underground drainage systems, stormwater drainage, street lighting and untidy surroundings, the state government has lost incentives from the Centre for failing to utilise funds effectively.
The state government sanctioned Rs 4,800 crore to urban local bodies (ULBs) under scheme expenditure for 2017-18. Rs 3,000 crore has been released so far, of which the ULBs have failed to spend even Rs 1,500 crore, even though the end of the financial year is only 45 days away. In last year’s budget, the state government sanctioned special funds to the municipal corporations of cities such as Hyderabad, Warangal and Karimnagar. Rs 500 crore was sanctioned for the development of roads in Hyderabad, of which Rs 300 crore remains unspent.
The Centre sanctioned Rs 115 crore as part of the Swachh Bharat programme, of which only Rs 55 crore has been spent. The TS Finance Commission sanctioned Rs 150 crore to ULBs, of which only Rs 25 crore has been spent. Apart from these, the state government sanctioned Rs 500 crore to municipalities, of which only Rs 200 crore has been spent. The 14th Finance Commission sanctioned `2,988 crore to ULBs. Of this, Rs 2,711 crore was allotted for various development works, and Rs 277 crore was set aside as a performance-based incentive.
However, by failing to completely utilise the sanctioned funds, the ULBs lost out on the Rs 277-crore incentive. The non-expenditure of funds came to light in a meeting held by K.T. Rama Rao, the minister for municipal administration and urban development, with department officials to devise budget proposals for 2018-19. According to official sources, the delay in expenditure was on account of officials sitting on the execution of works for long periods without valid reasons. Though tenders for the execution of works were being called promptly, it was found that they were not being finalised for months together under some pretext or the other. Though the minister had asked officials of the department of municipal administration and urban development to draw up 100-day action plans to meet targets in 2016, those plans have yet to materialise.