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Funds: Delhi govt,ministry play eyeball to eyeball

As the Parliamentary committee questioned Delhi’s preparedness for the Commonwealth Games,the Sheila Dikshit government and the Union Urban Development Ministry locked horns over the funding of Games projects under the ministry’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Written by Esha Roy | New Delhi |
February 25, 2009 11:38:44 pm

As the Parliamentary committee questioned Delhi’s preparedness for the Commonwealth Games,the Sheila Dikshit government and the Union Urban Development Ministry locked horns over the funding of Games projects under the ministry’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Senior government officials maintained that the ministry has relaxed JNNURM norms for Delhi as a special case following Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s insistence. But ministry officials said they will not sanction funds unless the Dikshit government follows ministry norms. “Projects already underway are not funded as per JNNURM guidelines. Individual projects,for which plans have been submitted to the ministry and then appraised by us,are eligible once they are approved,” Secretary (Urban Development) M Ramachandran told Newsline.

But Ramachandran emphasised,“We have not yet relaxed any norms for Delhi.”

The Delhi government went ahead with many of the projects after they had been struck down by the ministry as ineligible for funding. A senior government official reasoned: “Many Games projects for which we want funding are already underway. There are 26 flyovers,interceptor sewers to clean the Yamuna,BRTS and other bus projects,besides refurbishing stadiums. All these projects have already taken off — we couldn’t wait for the ministry to provide funds since we had to meet deadlines.”

Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta agreed that while these projects were technically ineligible for funds under JNNURM,as they were already under implementation,the government has received assurance that an exception would be made for Delhi. “We have already written to the Planning Commission and the UD Ministry — that we should be treated differently from other states,” he told Newsline. “Other states don’t have the pressure of meeting Commonwealth Games deadline; we do. We will resubmit plans to the UD ministry for reconsideration and will request for Rs 4,080 crore under JNNURM.”

The Delhi government’s total budget estimate for the Games stands approximately at Rs 20,000 crore.

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