The state’s scheme, aimed at creating environmentally sustainable villages, saw only up to 6% funds being used for green projects
Launched with much fanfare in August 2010 and with a promise to certify villages as ‘environmentally sustainable’, Maharashtra government’s Paryavaran Santulit Samruddha Gram Yojana has not had one success yet. Despite zilla parishads receiving Rs 228 crore as incentives in the scheme’s first 5 years, not one village has been declared sustainable yet, says an audit conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
“The zilla had received a total of Rs 227.77 crore as incentive grants during 2010-15. The details of expenditure incurred by the gram panchayats under the scheme was not consolidated in any of the three levels, viz block, ZP and state. Due to this, the audit could not ascertain the utilisation of the incentive grants released under the scheme,” says the audit report recently submitted to the state legislative assembly.
The scheme was aimed at making villages with a population of 5,000 or more sustainable with practices like solid waste segregation and laying sewage networks. The population size of the villages was chosen considering they would become small towns in the future.
The CAG audit, which assessed the scheme’s performance between 2010 and 2015, says, “The planning for the scheme of eco-friendly villages for sustainable development was deficient. No parameters were defined for eco-village due to which not a single village could be declared as eco-village and no village was developed as a growth centre.”
The audit report points out that the scheme in fact has not put in place any mechanism to roll out and to monitor its progress. “The monitoring and evaluation of the department was weak. No annual evaluation of the scheme could be conducted as no state-level unit for monitoring was established,” says the audit report.
A major component of the sustainable village development plan was to draw eco-friendly development plans in consultation with local communities. These plans invariably focused on laying a sewage network, storm water drains, rainwater harvesting, harnessing renewable energy and conservation and protection of existing assets such as beaches. The auditors found that village panchayats covered under the scheme didn’t prioritise environmental works. Instead, 38 per cent of the works were related to roads. Only 2 to 6 per cent of the works undertaken were related to environmental works. Most of the village panchayats had, in fact, not even made their environmental development plans as mandatory under the scheme. Whatever little bit works related to sewage and waste generation started couldn’t be finished due to paucity of funds.