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Misuse of BADP funds in Mizoram
Mizoram chief secretary said that in a number of cases, contractors have drawn 60 per cent of BADP fund in advance but failed to carry out the developmental works. He further warned anybody found misusing the BADP fund will not be spared
RECENTLY MIZORAM chief secretary Vanhela Pachuau confirmed that funds under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) have been siphoned off in Mizoram and warned that ''anybody found misusing the BADP fund will not be spared." According to the chief secretary, in a number of cases contractors have drawn 60 per cent of the fund in advance but failed to carry out the works in Lawngtlai and Saiha districts. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Certainly, acts of misappropriation of funds as well as use of funds to develop areas beyond the ambit of the BADP or in violation of the scheme's guidelines come under the meaning of 'misuse of funds'. Non-use of funds is another problem that needs to be addressed.

The main objective of the BADP is to meet the special developmental needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border. The BADP is a 100 per cent centrally funded programme. If implemented properly, the BADP can transform the lives of the “people living in remote and inaccessible areas.” But that is not happening as yet, indicating that the funds are being misused.

Some of the schemes/projects that can be taken up under BADP sectors are:

1) Education:
Construction of primary/middle/secondary/higher secondary school buildings, development of play fields, construction of hostels/dormitories and public libraries and reading rooms.

2) Health: Building infrastructure (primary health centre, community health centre and sub health centre), provision of medical equipments of basic/elementary type x-ray, ECG machines, equipment for dental clinic, pathological laboratories etc, setting up of mobile dispensaries/ ambulances in rural areas.

3) Agriculture and allied sectors: Animal husbandry and dairying; pisciculture; sericulture; poultry farming/ fishery/pig/goat farming; horticulture/floriculture; public drainage facilities; water conservation programmes; social forestry, parks, gardens; use of improved seeds, fertilisers and improved technology; veterinary aid centres etc.

4) Infrastructure: Construction and strengthening of approach roads, link roads (including culverts and bridges); small scale industries viz handloom, handicraft, furniture making, etc and food processing industry; provisions of civic amenities like electricity, water, pathways, ropeways, foot bridges, hanging bridges, public toilets in SC/ST habitations, bus stands etc; development of infrastructure for weekly haats/ bazaars and for cultural activities etc; construction of mini open stadium/indoor stadium/auditoriums; new and renewable electricity like bio gas/ biomass gasification, solar and wind energy etc.

5. Social sector: Construction of community halls; construction of Anganwadis, cultural centres; vocational studies and training for youth for self employment and skill up gradation of artisans and weavers etc.

The BADP scheme has been in implementation in Mizoram from 1993 to 1994. In the initial years up to 1997 to 1998, only four rural development blocks along Indo-Bangladesh border were covered. During this period of five years, a total of 11.55 crore was allocated to Mizoram only to develop the India-Bangladesh border, which is predominantly inhabited by the minority Chakma tribals. The year-wise allocations were as follows:
  • 1993 to 1994 – Rs 2.84 crore
  • 1994 to 1995-Rs 3.25 crore
  • 1995 to 1996 – Rs 2.73 crore
  • 1996 to 1997 – Rs 2.73 crore
But no development took place along the 318-km Mizoram-Bangladesh border. The border people continued to live in broken houses without any sanitation. Most of the villages up to 1998 were without schools, health sub centres, roads, water facilities, play grounds, community halls or livelihood (except traditional 'jhum' cultivation).

In 1997 to 1998, the programme was extended on the Eastern side of Mizoram bordering Myanmar. Presently, BADP scheme is implemented in 16 rural development blocks whose geographical area totals 12665.09 sq kms. Of these, 11 RD blocks are situated along the Indo-Myanmar border and the rest five RD blocks are along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

A total of Rs 146.82 crore has been released to the state under BADP to develop the border areas from 1997 to 2008 as given under:
  • 1997 to 1998 - Rs 6.73 crore
  • 1998 to 1999 - Rs 6.82 crore
  • 1999 to 2000 - Rs 8.00 crore
  • 2000 to 2001 - Rs 12.32 crore
  • 2001 to 2002- Rs 16.08 crore
  • 2002 to 2003 – Rs 16.32 crore
  • 2003 to 2004 – Rs 12.48 crore
  • 2004 to 2005 – Rs 15.56 crore
  • 2005 to 2006- Rs 9.03 crore
  • 2006 to 2007 – Rs 22.62 crore
  • 2007 to 2008 – Rs 20.86 crore
Hence, a total of Rs 158.37 crore have been released to Mizoram from 1993 to 2008. There is no transparency and accountability in the implementation of BADP. Yet, curiously, Mizoram is dubbed as “better performing state”. Mizoram state government has claimed to have utilised the full amounts every year except an amount of Rs 991.83 lakhs which it did not utilise during 2006-07 (position as on February 13, 2008). But there is no semblance of development in the areas nearest to the India-Bangladesh border. Even this non-utilisation of funds to the tune of Rs 991.83 lakhs when the targeted population are in dire need of facilities, is a criminal act.

Certainly, the BADP funds are not reaching the targeted population. In order to fine tune the programme, the Ministry of Home Affairs – Department of Border Management has revised its guidelines. The 2009 guidelines has asked the state governments to utilise the BADP funds only in those villages which are located within zero to 10 km from the international border. The 2009 guidelines further stated:

“Those villages, which are located nearer to the international border will get first priority. After saturating these villages with basic infrastructure, the next set of villages located within zero to 15 km and zero to 20 km need to be taken up. If the first village in a block is located at a far away location from the international border, the first village/hamlet in the block may be taken as "zero" km distance village for drawing the priority list.”

For so long, the Chakma minorities living along the India-Bangladesh border have been denied the right to development. Their villages are still without access to education, health care, roads, electricity, water supply and other infrastructure and livelihood.

Now, with the stringent provision in place requiring BADP funds be utilised first only within zero to 10 km from the international border, can the state government hoodwink the Central government and deny the inhabitants of India-Bangladesh border villages development?

 

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