The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission's seven-year voyage seems to have yielded little, at a great cost.
And, says a performance audit of the programme by the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the main reason has not been corruption or leakages but ennui and poor management, including defects in the guidelines, delay in release of funds and so on.
The scheme, begun in 2005, allocated Rs 1 lakh crore, with half the allocation coming from the Centre. It achieved just 18 per cent of the targets set in creating urban infrastructure and only 26 per cent of the housing units it was supposed to create in seven years.
The scheme was also meant to strengthen urban local bodies in structure, composition and financial resources. It required each state government, urban local body and the central government to sign a memorandum of understanding, whereby they would commit to implement various reforms to further the Constitution's 74th amendment's mission of genuine and far-reaching devolvement, including increased transparency and better governance.
A total of 1,517 and 1,298 housing and urban infrastructure projects, respectively, were approved for implementation between 2005 and 2011. However, as on March 31, 2011, only 22 of the 1,517 housing projects were completed. Only 26 per cent of the dwelling units within these projects had been completed. Of the 1,298 urban infrastructure projects approved, only 231 were completed. Non-availability of land was one reason. There were also cases of completed houses where the occupants had not been identified.
The CAG also reported widespread delays in projects and blamed this on the lack of planning by the implementing agencies. One reason it pointed to was a delay in release of funds from the Centre. Against a total allocation of Rs 66,084 crore by the Planning Commission, the Government of India was to have given Rs 37,070 crore. However, it had released only 32,934 crore up to March 2011. The delay resulted in a rush of expenditure in the last quarter, said the CAG.
It noted the scheme had envisaged sharing by the urban local bodies of the expenditure. In most states, it was observed the ULB share was either not released or was less than the stipulated amount.
The CAG has advised the Centre to give suitable incentives to states implementing the reforms envisaged in the JNNURM guidelines. And, enhanced capacity building, so that states achieve the pending reforms within the extended period up to March 2014.