JK sluggish in implementing Rs 500 cr horticulture program

After having failed to meet the deadline for completion of Rs 500 crore project for development of horticulture sector, the J&K government has approached the Government of India to extend the timeline for its implementation by two more years.

In December 2016, the Government of India approved the project for development of horticulture sector and restoration of orchards damaged by 2014 floods.

As per arrangement worked out between Centre and the state, Rs 450 crore were to be provided by the former and Rs 50 crore by the latter.

The project was part of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP), which was unveiled by the PM Narendra Modi on November 8, 2015 during a rally here.

It was to be completed within remaining period of 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. However, till date, only third of the funding approved for the project has been spent, raising questions on its implementation.

An official, wishing anonymity, told Greater Kashmir that state government has so far spent Rs 138. 82 crore from Rs 197.78 crore released by the Centre.

“The remaining amount (Rs 59.07) lying with us would be revalidated,” he said.

According to minutes of the 5th executive committee of the Mission for Integrated Development for Horticulture (MIDH) held on March 13, 2019, the state government sought extension in implementation of the project by two years.

The executive committee decided that a view would be taken after receipt of detailed proposals from the state government.

When contacted, Administrative Secretary Horticulture Department Manzoor Ahmad Lone confirmed that state government has sought extension due to late release of money and changes in some components of the project.

“We got funding at the fag-end of the financial year. Rs 75 crore were released to us only in March this year,” he said.

Considered as backbone of State’s economy, the horticulture sector provides livelihood to more than 10 lakh families of Kashmir. According to estimates, horticulture sector generates Rs 5000-6000 crore annually for fruit growers of Valley.

The Rs 500 crore was expected to boost horticulture sector, which received negligible funding under state budget.