Friday, October 2, 2009

Cash Strapped Delhi to get funds from Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission

In a decision that will be music to the ears of a cash-strapped Delhi government, the Planning Commission has decided to grant a one-time exemption so that the city government will now be able to access Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds even for projects which have already started.

This move is aimed to ease the flow of funds for Games-related projects, revealed chief minister Sheila Dikshit. In 2009-10, Rs 1,129.82 crore has been allocated for Delhi of which the city, according to top officials, has not received any money sofar though Rs 34 crore was sanctioned on Wednesday by the Urban development ministry.

According to JNNURM norms, projects which have already started are not sanctioned under the mission and no funds are released for them. Delhi has lost out on substantial sums allocated for it under JNNURM initially because it had not met the mandatory reform requirements and later because a lot of the projects that it sought money for had already started because of the Games deadline.

Dikshit, even while admitting that scarcity of funds is a worry, maintained that the decision on JNNURM will go a long way in solving the problem. ‘‘The government of India and the prime minister has been very kind to say that the funds will not be a hindrance to any work connected with the Games. Our request that there should be a one-time waiver of the long procedures that need to be fulfilled before getting the JNNURM funds has been accepted by the Planning Commission. There was no time for us to do so. Now that they have agreed I will soon meet the finance minister. We will get funds for projects which have already started,’’ revealed the chief minister.

Delhi’s JNNURM allocation went up ten fold this year from Rs 153.91 crore in 2008-09. The last project to be approved was the traffic management plan for areas around the Civic Centre, Minto Road, for which additional central assistance of Rs 34 crore has been sanctioned. The total project is worth Rs 97.16 crore. MCD will implement the plan over a period of 24 months.

Among projects that were earlier approved under JNNURM are 15 under the Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojana, buying of low floor buses for which 35% funding will come from the central government, redevelopment of Connaught Place and three DJB projects. State finance minister A K Walia in his budget speech had talked about the 15 RRAY projects under which a total of 65,000 flats will be constructed. About 8,000 of these flats are ready for allocation.