· FINAL DECISION ON FUNDS RELEASE BY APRIL 30, CASES OF SUSPECTED IRREGULARITIES TO BE PROBED
Chandigarh, April 1
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed all ministers to review the status of the stalled infrastructure development projects of their respective departments and submit a report to him in the next two weeks to enable his government to take a final decision on the release of unutilized funds.
All members of the council of ministers have been asked by the Chief Minister to complete the review process and submit their reports to him within 15 days. Projects approved by the ministers would be referred to the Executive Committee of the Punjab Infrastructural Development Board (PIDB) for further action, while cases of suspected irregularities would be sent for investigation. The entire process will be completed by April 30.
These decisions were taken on Saturday at a PIDB review meeting, chaired by Captain Amarinder Singh, according to an official spokesperson. The meeting was attended, among others, by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa. Also present Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Suresh Kumar (Principal Secretary to CM), PIDB Managing Director DK Tiwari, besides other senior officials.
The Captain Amarinder government had, at its first cabinet meeting, decided to hold back the unutilized funds of all departments pending review of the projects for which they had been sanctioned. A total of about Rs. 6201.50 crore worth of projects sanctioned by the PIDB under the previous regime are now under the scanner of the new government, according to an official spokesperson. The funds for these projects were yet to be released to the concerned departments, an official spokesperson disclosed, adding that a decision on their release would be taken after the completion of the review process.
The Chief Minister has directed the concerned departments to review these projects after fixing priority, and to study the tendering process to check if there were any irregularities in their sanction. In case of any irregularity, an inquiry would be ordered into the matter and those guilty of the wrongdoing would be brought to book, Captain Amarinder instructed the ministers.
The Chief Minister underlined the need to Integrate these available funds with centrally sponsored schemes to fast-track development projects in the state.
The funds that were held back from release pending review related to Urban Mission (Rs. 1,267.67 crore), Rural Mission (Rs, 167.51 crore), Sewerage & Water Supply under Urban Mission (Rs. 2,555.19 crore), Road Sector (Rs. 369.48 crore), Rural Water Supply Projects (Rs. 242.10 crore) and Funding of CSS/NABARD Schemes etc. (Rs. 381.06 crore).
Other projects for which funds were yet to be released related to Irrigation (Rs. 100.84 crore), Tourism (Rs. 98.31 crore), Governance Reforms (Rs. 39.45 crore), Power (Rs. 32.23 crore), Medical Education (Rs. 2.00 crore) and Higher/School Education (Rs.17.60 crore ), besides Rs. 928.06 crore for other ongoing old works including BRTS and liabilities towards enhanced land compensation, arbitration awards, etc.