The execution of five central projects in Kerala is in jeopardy as the central government demands branding in return for funding. Additionally, the central government has withheld the state's rightful share in the capital expenditures of Vizhinjam International Port and K Phone, intensifying the ongoing tensions.
Kerala is currently burdened with a debt of 5632 crores, stemming from various projects and grants, further exacerbating its already precarious financial situation. The central government has allotted Rs 75,000 for the life house and Rs 1925 crore in capital expenditure.
The state government has elucidated that the prevailing policy is impacting prominent schemes like LIFE. According to this policy, the central allocation for each LIFE house, constructed at a cost of Rs 4 lakh, is Rs 75,000. Despite the state's expenditure exceeding three times the amount for houses constructed through the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the state contends that it is compelled to display these projects as centrally driven.
This branding requirement extends to various other critical schemes, encompassing the Swachh Bharat Mission, Ayushman Bharat, National Health Mission, and Poshan Abhiyan Mission. The state is grappling with the need to showcase these initiatives as centrally sponsored projects, despite substantial financial contributions and efforts made at the state level.
The state government has asserted that the central government is withholding the claimed central share for Kerala in the capital expenditure of key projects, such as Vizhinjam port and K-Phone. The contention arises from the fact that these projects are not officially categorized as central projects, according to the state government.
As per central norms, the allocated capital expenditure (capex) for the state is set at Rs 1925 crore. The state is anticipating funds amounting to Rs 750 crores for UGC pay revision arrears, Rs 700 crores for urban development grants, and Rs 1260 crores for rural development grants. Additionally, there is an expectation of Rs 790 crore from the central government for food security projects, specifically for rice storage. The Kerala government asserts that the cumulative due from the central government amounts to Rs 5632 crore.
The state's claims underscore a larger issue regarding the categorization of key projects and the subsequent impact on the allocation of central funds, prompting discussions about the need for a reassessment of project classifications and fund distribution protocols.
Image source: NDTV