Ministers are only sidekicks: OPCC chief

Published: 22nd October 2012 10:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2012 10:26 AM   |  A+A-

Criticising the State Government for non-utilisation of Central funds, the Congress on Sunday alleged that complete bureaucratisation of the administration in which ministers prefer to remain silent has led to the sorry state of affairs.

In his latest blog post, president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik said the real problem is poor quality of ministerial supervision over developmental programmes.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has removed many experienced political leaders from the Government and cut others to size, Patnaik said, adding that ministers play second fiddle to the bureaucrats and prefer inactivity to preserve the red beacons on their cars. They understand the practical and governance problems, but maintain silence, he said.

The Chief Minister takes little or no interest in nitty-gritty of governance and has no worthwhile understanding of grassroots problems, Patnaik said and added that the administration is left to  bureaucrats.

Patnaik said the problem of under-utilisation of Central funds and failure of development programmes will continue unless ministers are active, the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) exercise real control and the administration at the cutting-edge level improved.

The Chief Minister has kept the Works Department that executes the World Bank-aided road project under him and the performance of the Department was miserable leading to loan-suspension by the World Bank, he said.

Criticising the State Government for not taking steps for strengthening PRIs, to hold Palli Sabha, Gram Sabha and social audit, Patnaik said the State finally complied with the instructions only after the Supreme Court ordered a probe into irregularities under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

Referring to the suspension of World Bank loan for the Odisha State Roads Project covering Bhawanipatna-Khariar, Berhampur-Taptapani and Bhadrak-Chandbali, Patnaik said it was done not because of any stepmotherly treatment or the WB president is against the BJD. The loan was suspended because the World Bank was not convinced that the tender process was competitive and transparent. There was poor progress of work and the entire process of land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement had not met the agreed social safeguard requirements, he said.

Describing the non-utilisation of funds as highly unfortunate, Patnaik said it comes to more than Rs 7,400 crore under the 15 flagship programmes. Denying non-utilisation and demanding more funds from the Centre will not cure this malady, Patnaik said and added the need is to improve administrative capacity to spend money in a proper and timely way.

In the 15 Flagship programmes, the Centre has provided Rs 41,176.82 crore, between 2007-8 and 2011-12, Patnaik said. Besides under-utilisation, weak delivery system is also an issue. Naveen’s main focus is on propaganda to take credit for whatever benefits people get from the development programmes and to blame the Centre for the rest of it, he added.

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