State govt and KHADC in conflict over central funds

SHILLONG, March 28: The state government’s decision not to release Rs 45.50 crore to KHADC, earmarked specifically for the latter by the 15th Finance Commission, may snowball into a potential collision.
The state government, instead of transferring the amount to the KHADC, has passed it on to the PHE department — a decision the KHADC is unlikely to take it lying down.
KHADC is already accusing the government of “bulldozing” its way.
A senior official of the PHE department told this reporter on Sunday that the Finance department had released the funds sometime in the first week of March.
“I am aware that the ADCs are questioning as to why this fund was allotted to the PHE department. But there is a change in the guidelines in terms of the funds release by the 15th Finance Commission. The government released the funds to the PHE since it was meant for water supply and sanitation,” the official said defending the decision.
On the other hand, KHADC CEM, Titosstarwell Chyne said that he had nothing to say about the decision of the government but added in the same breath, “we will insist that whatever funds were awarded to the ADCs by the 15th Finance Commission should be given to us. There was no mention in the guidelines that this fund meant for water supply sanitation should be given to the PHE department,” Chyne said.
According to him, the question of diversion of funds to the PHE department does not arise since the ADCs are recognised as the Rural Local Bodies (RLB) for the implementation of the funds earmarked by the Finance Commission as per the circular issued by the Union Ministry of Finance.
He further stated that it looks like the government is trying to bulldoze by misinterpreting the guidelines of this tied grant which was specifically earmarked for the ADCs.
Earlier, Chyne had met Chief Minister, Conrad K. Sangma and District Council Affairs Minister, Lahkmen Rymbui to apprise them of the concern of KHADC.
According to Chyne, the chief minister had assured that he will look into this matter. “We will again pursue the matter with the CM once the elections to the GHADC are over,” he added.
It may be mentioned that the committee comprising senior officials of various departments in its meeting held on October 15, last year had decided that the tied grant which is meant for specific uses like sanitation and water supply will be given to the PHE department which is already implementing such programmes under the Jal Jeevan Mission programme of the Centre.
Clarifying that Rs 45.50 crore would be part of the JJM, the PHE official said that this fund would be utilised for villages which are not eligible for JMM due to certain restrictions in the guidelines.
It may be mentioned that as per the directive of the Centre, 50 per cent of the funds earmark by the 15th Finance Commission should be for water  supply and sanitation.
Out of the total amount of Rs 91 crore released by the Finance Commission to the state government, Rs 45.50 crore was released to the department since it was meant for water supply and sanitation, the PHE official informed.
The Centre had released Rs 45.50 crore from the un-tied grants and another Rs 45.50 crore from the tied grants.

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