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Maharashtra cares little for health, education

April 11, 2006 13:48 IST

The Maharashtra government likes to believe and likes others to believe that it is a progressive state, but if one takes a look at the state's expenditure on three important areas that help improve the human development index -- public health, education and water supply and sanitation, it presents a very different picture.

The United Nations Development Programme 1990 guidelines require that countries and their provinces spend at least 5 per cent of the budgetary outlay on education, public health and drinking water and sanitation facilities.

In 2002-03, the state made a provision for Rs 264 crore (Rs 2.64 billion) expenditure on education, but only Rs 86 crore (Rs 860 million) was spent.

In the same year, on health and water supply and sanitation, the outlay was Rs 438 crore and Rs 445 crore respectively. However, only Rs 216 crore (Rs 2.16 billion) was spent on health. But the expenditure on water supply and sanitation has exceeded the outlay by Rs 213 crore (Rs 2.13 billion).

But even this figure falls miserably short of the UNDP target of Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 150 billion). Even if one adds up the expenditure made on sports, cultural affairs, housing and urban development as part contributing to the improvement of HDI, the state still fails to meet the target by Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) since all these number add up to only Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion).

This year, interestingly, Rs 414 crore (Rs 4.14 billion) was allocated for giving budgetary support to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board under the head of power development, but in reality almost Rs 2,747 crore (Rs 27.47 billion) was handed over to the MSEB. And a major part of the amount was not spent on capital investment but for buying expensive power, as the state has been facing a huge power deficit.

In 2003-04, the provision for education, health, water supply and sanitation was Rs 375 crore (Rs 3.75 billion), Rs 210 crore (Rs 2.1 billion), Rs 730 crore (Rs 7.3 billion) respectively. But the amounts that were actually spent were Rs 175, Rs 152 crore (Rs 1.52 billion) and Rs 332 respectively.

This year again, there was a provision of Rs 414 crore (Rs 4.14 billion) for the development of power, but in reality, Rs 1,334 crore (Rs 13.34 billion) was spent. The expenditure of the irrigation department, too, jumped to Rs 2,070 crore (Rs 20.7 billion), against a provision of Rs 518 crore (Rs 5.18 billion).

The year 2004-05 shows the same pattern. The provision for education, health and water supply and sanitation was Rs 192 crore (Rs 1.92 billion), Rs 528 crore (Rs 5.28 billion) and Rs 425 crore (Rs 4.25 billion) respectively, but actual spendings were Rs 295 crore (Rs 2.95 billion), Rs 311 crore (Rs 3.11 billion) and Rs 263 crore (Rs 2.63 billion)respectively. Once again, funds were diverted to the power department and irrigation. These ministries spent Rs 778 crore (Rs 7.78 billion) and Rs 3,173 crore (Rs 31.73 billion) against provision of merely Rs 215 crore (Rs 2.15 billion) and Rs 831 crore (Rs 8.31 billion) respectively.

The BJP state unit general secretary and MLC Vinod Tavde said, "This shows how the government is being callous about the development of its own people. For the last four-five years, the expenditure on the factors that improve HDI has always fallen short by 1.5 to 2 per cent of the ideal."

Tavde further said, "Not only actual budgetary allocations are short of desired mark of 5 per cent, but whatever allocations have been made that, too, have been diverted for other purposes. In the tenth five-year plan of the state, which began in 2002, outlay of Rs 2,538 crore (Rs 25.38 billion) was made for education, but in the first three financial years of the plan, only Rs 550 crore (Rs 5.5 billion) was spent on education. Then there was provision of Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) for water supply and sanitation facilities in the plan, but in the first three years, only Rs 1,200 (Rs 12 billion) was spent. Amounts of nearly Rs 2,150 crore (Rs 21.5 billion) from these two ministries and another Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) from other ministries were diverted for irrigation projects and power ministry."

No one is going to object if the state government wants to spend money on irrigation projects, but in that case it should make allocations for the same in the Budget itself, why the government is indulging in this financial jugular is beyond comprehension, Tavde said.

Every department is responsible for preparing the plan and executing it, while the finance department only grants administrative sanction to the expenditure. Unless any department surrenders the funds allocated to it, it is not possible to divert to any other ministry, said finance secretary (expenditure) V K Kanade.

The funds are released on the basis of cash flow of the particular department, he added.

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Makarand Gadgil in Mumbai