Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mizoram: Misuse of BADP funds

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Read a shorter version of this report - "Misuse of BADP funds in Mizoram" in Merinews.com, 19 June 2009 at http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=15773212

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By-Paritosh Chakma

I am encouraged by the recent candid admission by Mizoram Chief Secretary Vanhela Pachuau that the funds under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) have been siphoned off and warned that ''Anybody found misusing the BADP fund will not be spared".

The Chief Secretary has confirmed a few cases where the contractors have drawn 60 percent of the fund in advance but failed to carry out the works in Lawngtlai and Saiha districts. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Certainly, acts of misappropriation of funds or use of funds to develop areas beyond the ambit of the BADP come under the meaning of “misuse of funds”. Non-use of funds is another problem that needs to be addressed.

The main objective of the BADP is “to meet the special developmental needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border and to saturate the border areas with the entire essential infrastructure through convergence of Central/State/ BADP/Local schemes and participatory approach”. The BADP is a 100% centrally funded programme.

Sometimes, I do not believe my own eyes and ears when I read and hear that a huge range of development activities can be undertaken under the BADP which has the potential to transform the lives of those “people living in remote and inaccessible areas”. But the aam aadmi is being denied their rights and privileges.

The following are various schemes/projects that can be taken up under BADP sectors:

1) Education:
(i) Primary/Middle/Secondary/Higher secondary school buildings (including additional
rooms)
(ii) Development of play fields
(iii) Construction of hostels/dormitories
(iv) Public libraries and reading rooms

2) Health

(i) Building infrastructure (PHC/CHC/SHC) .
(ii) Provision of medical equipments of basic/elementary Type X-Ray, ECG machines, equipment for dental clinic, pathological labs. etc. can also be purchased.
(iii) Setting up of mobile dispensaries/ ambulances in rural areas by Govt/ Panchayati Raj
Institutions including Tele medicine.

3) Agriculture and allied sectors
(i) Animal Husbandry & Dairying
(ii) Pisciculture
(iii) Sericulture
(iv) Poultry farming/ Fishery/ Pig/Goat/Sheep farming.
(v) Farm forestry, horticulture/floriculture.
(vi) Public drainage facilities.
(vii) Construction of irrigation embankments, or lift irrigation or water table recharging
Facilities (including minor irrigation works).
(viii) water conservation programmes
(ix) Soil conservation-protection of erosion-flood protection.
(x) Social Forestry, JFM, parks, gardens in government and community lands or other
Surrendered lands including pasturing yards.
(xi) Use of improved seeds, fertilizers and improved technology
(xii) Veterinary aid Centres, artificial insemination Centres and breeding Centres.
(xiii) Area specific approach keeping in view the economy of Scale- Backward-Forward integration.

4) Infrastructure
(i) Construction and strengthening of approach roads, link roads (including culverts& bridges)
(ii) Industries- Small Scale with local inputs viz. handloom, handicraft, furniture making, tiny units, black smith works etc. and food processing industry
(iii) Provisions of civic amenities like electricity, water, pathways, ropeways, foot bridges, hanging bridges, public toilets in slum areas and in SC/ST habitations and at tourist centers, bus stands etc.
(iv) Development of infrastructure for weekly haats/ bazaars and also for cultural activities etc. in border areas.
(v) Construction of buildings for recognized District or State Sports Associations and for
Cultural and Sport Activities or for hospitals (provision of multi-gym facilities in
Gymnastic centers, sports association, physical education training institutions, etc.)
(vi) Construction of houses for officials engaged in education sector and health sector in remote border areas.
(vii) Tourism/Sports/Adventure Sports Scheme- creation of world class infrastructure for
tourism and sports in border block wherever feasible- like rock climbing, mountaineering, river rafting, forest trekking, skiing and safaris (car/bike race, camel safaris, yak riding, boating in Rann of Kutchh.
(viii) Creation of new tourist centers.
(ix) Construction of mini open stadium/indoor stadium/auditoriums.
(x) New & Renewable electricity - Bio gas/ Biomass gasification, Solar& Wind energy and Mini Hydel Projects -systems/devices for community use and related activities.

5. Social Sector
(i) Construction of community centers
(ii) Construction of Anganwadis
(iii) Rural Sanitation blocks.
(iv) Cultural Centres/ Community Halls
(v) Construction of common shelters for the old or Handicapped
(vi) Capacity building programme by way of vocational studies & training for youth for self employment and skill up gradation of artisans and weavers.

6. Miscellaneous:
i) Development of Model villages in border areas.
ii) E-chaupals/ agrishops/ mobile media vans/market yards.
iii) Cluster approach wherever feasible.

Only if half of all these – which are meant for the border people – were implemented in the Mizoram-Bangladesh border areas inhabited by the Chakma minority tribals, the Chakma community would have been developed in terms of education, access to health, self employment and infrastructure.

The BADP has been in implementation in Mizoram from 1993-1994. In the initial years up to 1997-1998, only four Rural Development Blocks along Indo-Bangladesh border were covered. During this period of five years, a total of 11.55 crores were allocated to Mizoram only to develop the India-Bangladesh border which is predominantly inhabited by the Chakma tribals. The year-wise allocations were as follows:

1993-94 – Rs 2.84 crore
1994-95- Rs 3.25 crore
1995-96 – Rs 2.73 crore
1996-97 – Rs 2.73 crore

But no development took taken place along the 318-km Mizoram-Bangladesh border. People continued to live in broken houses without any sanitation. Most of the villages up to 1998 were without schools, Health Sub Centres, roads, water facilities, play grounds, community halls or livelihood etc (except traditional “jhum” cultivation).

In 1997-1998 the programme was extended on the eastern side of Mizoram bordering Myanmar.

Presently, BADP scheme is implemented in 16 R.D Blocks whose geographical area totals 12665.09 sq.kms. Of these, 11 R.D Blocks are situated along the Indo-Myanmar border and the rest five R.D Blocks are along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

A total of Rs 146.82 crore have been released to the state of Mizoram under BADP to develop the border areas from 1997 to 2008 as given under:

1997-98 - Rs 6.73 crore
1998-99 - Rs 6.82 crore
1999-2000 - Rs 8.00 crore
2000-01 - Rs 12.32 crore
2001-02- Rs 16.08 crore
2002-03 – Rs 16.32 crore
2003-04 – Rs 12.48 crore
2004-05 – Rs 15.56 crore
2005-06- Rs 9.03 crore
2006-07 – Rs 22.62 crore
2007-08 – Rs 20.86 crore[1]

Hence, a grand total of Rs 158.37 crore have been released to the state of Mizoram from 1993 to 2008.

I do not know how Mizoram is continued to be dubbed as “better performing state” in terms of implementation of BADP. No citizen knows where the money is being pumped in since there is no semblance of development in the areas nearest to the border. Mizoram government has claimed to have utilized the full amounts every year except an amount of Rs 991.83 lakhs which it did not utilize during 2006-07 (Position as on 13.02.2008).[2] Even this non-utilization of funds to the tune of Rs 991.83 lakhs when the targeted population are in dire need of facilities, is a criminal act.

Certainly, the BADP funds are not reaching the targeted population. In order to fine tune the programme, the Ministry of Home Affairs – Department of Border Management has revised its guidelines. The 2009 guidelines has asked the state governments to utilize the BADP funds only in those villages of the blocks, which are located “within 0-10 km” from the international border. The 2009 guidelines further stated:

“Those villages, which are located nearer to the international border will get first priority. After saturating these villages with basic infrastructure, the next set of villages located within 0-15 km and 0-20 km need to be taken up. If the first village in a block is located at a far away location from the international border, the first village/hamlet in the block may be taken as "0" km distance village for drawing the priority list.”

Effectively, in Mizoram, most of the Chakma villages along the Mizoram-Bangladesh border are located within 0-15 km radius from the international border. Hence, they should be given the first priority of development.

For so long, the Chakma minorities have been denied the right to development. About half of the Chakma population in the state are said to be residing outside the Chakma Autonomous District Council and they have been deprived of human development in terms of education, health care, roads, electricity, water supply and other infrastructure and livelihood.

Now, with the stringent provision in place requiring BADP funds be utilized first within “0-10 km” from the international border, can the state government hoodwink the Central government and deny the inhabitants of India-Bangladesh border villages development?

It is to be seen how far the state government is willing to stick to the 2009 guidelines.

Footnotes:

[1]. Statement showing the amount released during the last 10 years (1997-98 to 2007-08) under Border Area Development Programme to various BADP States, Lokh Sabha Unstarred question NO 1669 for 11.03.2008, available at http://164.100.47.133/annex/lsq14/13/AU1669.htm
[2]. Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India available at http://www.mha.nic.in/pdfs/BADP.pdf

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