Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cabinet secy not impressed

- Security a major concern, development parameters poor
AMIT GUPTA

Ranchi, June 29: Union cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar today noted with concern Jharkhand’s vulnerable security situation vis-a-vis the Maoists and pointed to the state’s failure in ensuring satisfactory progress in various development projects as the reason behind it.

At a review meeting conducted here with the state top brass that included chief secretary A.K. Basu, DGP V.D. Ram and a host of other departmental secretaries, Chandrashekhar asked them to ensure that henceforth, rail and road communication did not collapse whenever a bandh was called by Naxalites.

Referring to recent incidents of trains being halted or hijacked by Naxalites on the CIC section of Palamau region and the complete breakdown in movement of vehicles during Maoist-sponsored bandhs, he said, “Rail and road transportation should not be interrupted at any cost.”

He said overall security and maintenance of law and order was a concern for the state. “But, I have asked the state administration to prepare an action plan and give more impetus on security related aspects,” he added.

Union home ministry officials, who were accompanying Chandrashekhar, said the state police had a lot of vacancies which had to be filled and that the Centre was always ready to arrange for their training on a par with central paramilitary forces.

He also took exception to the fact that deputy commissioners were spending more time in the state capital on some pretext or the other.

“They should concentrate more in districts and blocks, the centre of all development activities. But we have reports that DCs spend more time in Ranchi and quite often visit Delhi,” he said, referring to it at least twice during the meeting that lasted for about six hours at Indian Institute of Coal Management (IICM) auditorium.

Basu was forced to accept that “the quality of few of the DCs is extremely poor” and said he had asked the Centre to send some more IAS officials to be posted here.

The Union cabinet secretary, along with other senior officials from Delhi, undertook a detailed review of the state government’s performance in various sectors of development, besides looking at the overall security environment.

In executing rural road projects under (PMGSY), the state’s performance was adjudged “pretty poor and not at all adequate”, while progress in Sampurna Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) was also found to be “poor”.

Chandrashekhar’s team made similar observations about projects in Ranchi and Dhanbad under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and four-laning of national highways to be executed by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

On the NREGS front, Union rural development secretary Reeta Verma pointed out that the completion rate was only about 40 per cent. Moreover, the mandatory clause on the use of NREGS funds_ 40 per cent on material and 60 per cent on wages_ was not being followed. Wage payments were also being delayed.

The only silver lining was that the payment system had been streamlined with 90 per cent disbursals to labourers being made through post-office accounts.

Chandrashekhar said he would visit Jharkhand in October again to monitor the progress of the centrally sponsored schemes discussed today. Among them were PMGSY, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), drinking water, backward region grant fund, tribal welfare scheme, road and rail transportation and Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY).

Chandrashekhar suggested that the chief secretary hold monthly review meetings to ensure targets were achieved. “The Union government would send one or more secretary-level official to attend those monthly reviews held by the chief secretary,” he said, adding that during his next visit he would try and meet DCs of districts with lower development parameters.

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