This article first appeared in Business Standard on 28 July, 2017
With the BJP
and JD(U) joining hands in Bihar, the stage is finally set for implementing one of the foremost poll promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
in the run up to the Bihar
elections in 2015. While Modi had announced a special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar
at an election rally in Arrah in August 2015, it has released money to the state only for projects sanctioned under the 12th Five-Year Plan. The plan, which commenced in 2012, coincidentally, will end this year. This sets the stage for the BJP-JD(U) alliance in Bihar
to go full steam ahead, with the special package for the backward state promised by Modi in his 2015 election rally.
Information obtained by Business Standard
under the Right to Information (RTI) shows that the Modi government
had issued a release order of almost Rs 1,888 crore to Bihar
as ‘special assistance’ in 2015-16.
The financial resources division of NITI Aayog
did not give details of the special assistance given to Bihar
during 2016-17. The money given to Bihar
as special assistance was to be used for one ongoing project of the 11th Five-Year Plan
and nine projects approved during the 12th Five-Year Plan.
The Ministry of Finance in a letter dated 8 February, 2016 sanctioned the money after a recommendation was sent to it by NITI Aayog
on 31 December, 2015. (see document at the end of the article
). This letter was issued just a month after the Nitish Kumar
government was sworn after the grand alliance with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress managed to outflank BJP
in the state polls.
The letter states that Bihar
was to utilise the money only for projects that were approved by the government. The Bihar
government was to furnish utilisation certificates to the NITI Aayog
after spending the money on the approved projects.
Among the nine projects in the 12th Five-Year Plan, for which money was released include one highway project and eight projects to boost Bihar’s electricity distribution system. The sole highway project under the 11th Five-Year Plan, for which special assistance was earmarked, was rail-cum-road project across the River Ganga at Digha near Patna. (See the second document attached at the end of article) This bridge was to run parallel to existing Gandhi bridge across the Ganga river in Bihar’s capital. The letter sanctioning an amount of Rs 121 crore for this project was issued on 31 March, 2016 by the Ministry of Finance.
The highway project in the 12th Five-Year Plan was to be used for building a two-lane semi-elevated road in addition to a four-lane elevated highway over the Patna canal. This was to be used as an approach road for the rail-cum-road bridge near Digha and an amount of Rs 279 crore was sanctioned for the same.
The bulk of the money, for which money was sanctioned as special assistance, was for electricity projects. Among these, more than half the money totalling almost Rs 1,000 crore was for two projects. One of them included strengthening of the power distribution system and removing distribution constraints in North and South Bihar, for which an amount of Rs 438 crore was sanctioned as special assistance. Meanwhile, the strengthening of the sub-transmission system in Bihar
was sanctioned an amount of Rs 555 crore by the Modi government.
Other electricity projects for which special assistance was given include construction of a 220 KV sub-station at Kishanganj along with transmission lines, complete electrification of villages in 11 districts of Bihar
and strengthening of sub-transmission systems across the state.
Sanction order of Rs 1,766.53 crore issued a month after Nitish Kumar
CM in 2015
Sanction order of Ministry of Finance for road-cum-rail project near Patna issued in 2016