144 decisions in 29 days with few controversial ones, President’s rule in Maharashtra in top gear

Maharashtra came under President’s rule on September 28 after the erstwhile Congress-NCP government fell.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Published:October 28, 2014 1:47 pm

In the 29 days since the President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra, the state administration under Governor C H Vidyasagar Rao has issued 144 government resolutions.

Maharashtra came under President’s rule on September 28 after the erstwhile Congress-NCP government fell.

On October 16, for instance, the Social Justice and Special Assistance Department issued a resolution rescinding its earlier move to provide Rs 258 crore in additional government guarantees to five backward class corporations. Ahead of the Maharashtra polls, the Prithviraj Chavan-led cabinet had taken a decision to grant the additional guarantee to the five corporations — Mahatma Phule Backward Class Corporation, Lokshahir Annabhu Sathe Development Corporation, Sant Rohidas Leather Industries and Charmakar Development Corporation, Vasantrao Naik VJNT Development Corporation and Maharashtra OBC Development Corporation — to get loans from the National Backward Classes and Finance Development Corporation. The Chavan government had then claimed that the guarantee amount would help these corporations secure loans from the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation and that the move would help at least 35,000 backward class beneficiaries.

Under the President’s rule, a letter directing all state departments to shed financial indiscipline has also been issued. After the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) pointed out that utilisation certificates for grants worth a staggering Rs 71,563 crore were pending, the state finance department issued a GR on October 9 making various head of departments (HODs) responsible for ensuring that all pending cases were settled in a month. The CAG had also indicated that detailed bills for Rs 1027 crore drawn from contingency funds since 1990 had not been submitted. The GR has directed all departments to complete this process before the year-end. It further instructs HODs to file criminal cases without delay in instances of financial misappropriation. A cut in development spend was imposed under the Chavan regime due to state’s tight fiscal position, which is still in place.

A controversial decision tweaking Right to Information (RTI) procedures was also taken with the state’s General Administration Department (GAD) issuing a GR on October 17 instructing public information officers in various departments “to desist from issuing information that did not constitute public interest”. The move has since invited the wrath of several RTI activists.

Matters of general administration received highest priority, with GAD along issuing 24 of the total 144 GRs. Issues concerning the Rural Development Department came second with 13 GRs, followed by the Agriculture, Dairy Development and Fisheries Department (12 GRs).

Orders regarding implementation of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and another one calling for a fresh survey for banning manual scavenging in Maharashtra were also issued.

A senior official in the Governor’s office said all decisions had been taken in accordance with the Maharashtra Rules of Business (Amendment) Rules, 2014 that were notified after the President’s rule was imposed. The rules lay down guidelines on how and to whom files are to be routed. On October 4, Rao had appointed retired IAS officer Anil Baijal as his adviser. He is now Rao’s link with the state bureaucracy.

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