Barely A week after Nitish Kumar walked out of the Grand Alliance and joined hands with the BJP to take oath as Chief Minister of the NDA government in Bihar on July 27, the Centre held inter-ministerial consultations on the status of the Rs 1.25 lakh crore “special package” for the state, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Assembly polls in 2015.
According to sources, the discussions, held on August 3, also centred around fast-tracking the implementation of projects linked to infrastructure, power, irrigation, water resources and roads. The Union Finance Ministry is expected to release the funds soon, based on the representations from the state government and central ministries, said sources. “We have been releasing funds from time to time. But after the new coalition came into existence, the Centre is keen to help Bihar and assist it in its projects,” said a senior government official who took part in the discussions.
In addition to the Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package, announced at a rally in Ara in August 2015, Modi had also said that an additional Rs 40,000 crore would be released for earlier infrastructure projects, raising the total amount to Rs 1.65 lakh crore. This “special package” for the state was a major poll plank of the NDA in the state Assembly elections. But in March this year, the Bihar government said that only Rs 28,117.23 crore had been made available by the Centre. Bihar Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh told the Legislative Council that the state had spent Rs 6608.77 crore of the funds released so far.
According to the state government’s reply, schemes worth Rs 97,000 crore had not been implemented. The state government told the Legislative Council that the Union Finance Ministry had “not given them a proper reply” when asked about disbursement of funds.
On Sunday, Nitish urged the Centre to allocate funds “liberally”. Speaking at an event, he said: “We (BJP and JDU) have come together. It must also reflect (in the allocation of funds). Bihar is a big state with 38 districts and 101 sub-divisions and you (Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad) are saying Rs 50-70 crore will be given to it to strengthen the subordinate judiciary. It will not serve the purpose.” Meanwhile, Union HRD Ministry officials said the Bihar government was yet to offer land for setting up the Vikramshila University.