The Union finance ministry told Andhra Pradesh government officials that it would send a team to inspect the work being done for the development of the backward areas to check on the utilisation of funds that the Centre had released for this purpose as it doubted their report on the matter.
The Centre released Rs 700 crore under the Backward Areas Development Scheme to seven districts in the state. Four districts of Rayalaseema — Chittoor, Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantapur — and three districts of North Coastal Andhra, namely Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam, were each allotted Rs 100 crore.
The Centre asked the state government for the action plan for the implementation of this scheme and the utilisation certificates for the funds. The state government said in its reply that the funds had been released to the seven districts, their utilisation being left to the district collectors as per local needs.
Without sending any utilisation certificates, the state government told the Centre that the entire amount of Rs 700 crore had been spent. But two years after being allotted the funds, the seven districts have spent only about Rs 8 crore.
They were shocked to find out at a review meeting that the district collectors had not spent the funds allotted to them. According to official information, out of Rs 700 crore the district collectors sanctioned Rs 496 crore and released Rs 104 crore, spending only about Rs 8 crore.
In the seven districts, 7,616 projects were sanctioned, 1,977 taken up and only 864 completed. In AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu's own district of Chittoor itself, only Rs 2 crore was spent out of Rs 100 crore. In Kurnool and Kadapa districts, not a single rupee was spent.
Worried at such tardiness, the officials have asked the district collectors to identify other projects completed under other schemes, such as the Employment Guarantee Scheme and others, to convince the visitors about the legitimate utilisation of the Backward Areas Development funds.