Friday, February 26, 2010

Centre hammers down Delhi Games pitch

A month before it presents its own budget, the Sheila Dikshit government received a jolt on Friday with the allocation for Games-bound Delhi in the Union Budget seeing a sharp dip over last year — from a high of Rs 2487.53 crore last year to Rs 1283.70 crore.

At a time when Delhi government is struggling to find funds for Commonwealth Games to be held in October, a paltry sum of Rs 50 crore — as against the demand of Rs 2,000 crore — has been allocated for CWG projects. Last year, Rs 1000 crore was given as special grant for Games. Though the grant under JNNURM has increased to Rs 903.63 crore from Rs 153.91 crore, it doesn’t mean that the fund can be channelised to all Games-related projects covered under JNNURM, said sources. A senior government official said: ‘‘Last year, JNNURM funds were used for Games works because most of the urban mission projects were to start from 2011. Not anymore, as we will have to divert funds for projects slated to start next year.’’

Facing a fund crunch, the government, sources say, will now have to maintain a tighter grip on its purse to be able to survive and walk into 2011-12. Speaking to Times City, Delhi finance minister A K Walia refrained from commenting on the size of the allocation and simply said that earlier the central assistance was always in the range of Rs 700 crore and only last year the state got sizeable assistance from the Centre in view of the Games.

Claiming that the Central assistance will be just enough to sail through the Games, the government admitted that the pressure for generating revenue will be much more. On being asked whether there would be more pressure on the common man in the form of fresh taxes or cut in subsidies in the Delhi budget, Walia refused to comment. But government sources admitted that there are indications that the government, already reeling under the impact of inflation and a financial crunch, may have to resort to measures to enhance its kitty.

Walia added that despite reduction in special grant, there will be no let-up in execution of Games projects. ‘‘The city government will continue to strive hard to utilize its own resources because the Games are linked to the pride of the country. However, the city government will continue to request for allocation of more funds from the Planning Commission for this purpose,’’ he said.
Nodded Rakesh Mehta, chief secretary of Delhi, ‘‘The funds will need to be made available as many projects like the Barapullah Nallah are heading towards completion.’’

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