Reasonable central allocations notwithstanding, it is routine for developmental funds to ‘lapse’ in Kashmir due to bureaucratic hurdles and systemic inefficiency. This is reflected in the rundown state of the Valley’s basic amenities and lack of progress on the infrastructural front. The region’s harsh winter, cited as the cause for the malaise, ironically leaves it with a cumulative backlog in areas like road improvement, drainage facilities, water supply and sanitation.
Because of red tape, it takes years for a project to get approved, not to speak of its execution. Even minor works like blacktopping of roads do not get completed in time. Patchwork on thoroughfares is an activity mostly reserved for the durbar move, when the state’s elected royalty descends on the summer capital again.
Contractors, usually blamed for using substandard material, complain of the “hardships and costs” involved in getting a project through, including hefty commissions at almost every stage of government procedure – and most of all when betting their bills cleared.
The Valley’s development deficit is more due to bureaucratic hassles, inefficiency and corruption than lack of funds. For three years running now, half the funds allotted for the development of Srinagar have remained unspent, and the state has the worst record on utilising JNURM allocations. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who came to power on the bijli, sadak pani plank has not delivered on any of these counts in Kashmir.
Most schemes, particularly those centrally-sponsored, are processed after October when officials know full well that the onset of winter leaves almost no time for taking up any works. The result is that the funds get diverted to Jammu.
In 2013-14, around Rs 90 crore, out of a total of Rs 105 crore allotted by the Government of India for road development across the state, were spent in Jammu alone. Kashmir’s rulers had a handy excuse to proffer – winter weather did not allow road construction t proceed. How long will these three months of winter keep seeping into the rest of the year as an excuse for discrimination against Kashmir?