New Delhi: As large sums from the allocations to the States to build houses for the urban poor and take up urban development initiatives remain unspent, the Union government is considering diverting them to Metro Rail projects to speed them up.
Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has expressed concern at the inability of the civic bodies to spend funds, especially those meant for social schemes to build houses for the poor and develop slums.
The revised Budget estimates slashed the allocations from Rs. 16,500 crore to Rs. 10,000 crore, but only Rs. 7,200 crore has been spent. Based on feedback from the States, the Urban Development Ministry hopes to spend the remaining Rs. 2,800 crore by March on Metro projects.
The Ministry has found that the States have been unable to spend the sum set aside for schemes such as the Rajiv Rinn Yojana, the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) and the Rajiv Awas Yojana.
Only Rs. 550 crore of the Rs. 733 crore allocated for the NULM and Rs. 11 lakh of the Rs. 191 crore for the RRY has been spent. “There is a suggestion that since many of the projects such as the one on Smart Cities are yet to begin and the money has not been spent on several others, the unspent allocation can be used for the upcoming and ongoing Metro projects. A decision will be taken soon,” a Ministry official said.
“The Minister has spoken about the need to make the urban local bodies more efficient and more empowered to be able to pitch for funds and then utilise them for the welfare of the people.”