Over two years after the abrogation of Article 370, the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir is not receiving much in the way of financial backing from the Centre, it has been revealed. In the first seven months of this fiscal year, the J&K administration received just around 10% of the budgetary allocation under Central schemes, media reports have indicated.
Implemented by the respective State governments, Centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) are funded to a large extent by the Union government. It is here that the allocation to J&K has fallen short — as of October-end, of the allotted ₹18,527 crore, the UT received just ₹1,809 crore, distributed across 25 departments.
Some departments, including critical ones such as Jal Shakti, Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, Power Development, and Information Technology, have reportedly received zero CSS funds.
The CSS funds are apart from the funds from GST collection that the Union government is obliged to share with State governments. J&K last week received ₹1,064.44 crore under the back-to-back loan facility, in lieu of GST compensation, from the Centre. Earlier, on October 7 and July 15 this year, it similarly received ₹967 crore and ₹1,813 crore, respectively.
Reasons for the delay
Much of the delay is attributed to the second wave of the COVID pandemic, which impeded work by the departments in April-May this year. New funds are often released only on the basis of utility certificates for the money previously released, so a delay in utilisation impact fresh allotment. Also, audits on previous utilisation, if delayed, can prevent the flow of fresh funds.
The CSS funds data are interesting when seen against the backdrop of the recent visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The minister, on his first visit to J&K since its loss of autonomy in August 2019, claimed the region was making giant strides towards progress.
There has been a rise in tourist inflow, and development and welfare projects are taking off at a rapid speed, he said. He further said poverty and stone-pelting are visibly down in the UT. While available data do not support his statements, the slow pace of CSS fund allocation may also indicate J&K has a long way to go before it hits the development path.