Districts facing Covid-19 fund constraints as state, centre delay fund release

[ Amar Sangno ]

ITANAGAR, Aug 5: Reports of financial constraints being faced by the administration of various districts have surfaced, as the Covid management teams are finding it hard to cope with the situation in their respective districts.

Some of those at the helms of affairs, that this daily spoke to, say that many districts have created huge liabilities owing to Covid crisis management as the government did not release second instalment of the fund.

“At present, the fund situation  is not okay,  but I think there is enough fund at the state level so we do not have to worry as it is provided from time to time to the districts”  said a deputy commissioner requesting anonymity.

“There is no fund for Covid management due to condition of 35 percent ceiling in the SDRF fund. There are huge pending bills running into almost one crore for Covid-19 management as the work started from April onwards,” said another district administrator.

Reportedly, East Kameng district is also facing a similar situation in Covid funds. However, few districts such as Siang, Lohit, Longding and Changlang have reported comfortable fund situation.

“We are in a somewhat comfortable position. Returnees have reduced,” said Longding Deputy Commissioner Chesta Yadav.

Health and Family Welfare Secretary P Parthiban informed that the total expenditure for Covid-19 crisis management is Rs 75 crores approximately so far, including the fund given for procurement of medicines and equipment for Covid-19.

“Under the national health mission (NHM) (Central Fund), we asked the Government of India for Rs 77 crores with an action plan. We have received only Rs 19 crores, which has been spent.  We also have a liability of Rs 28 Crores under the NHM” the health secretary said.

Parthiban further said that under the Mukhya Mantri Rogi Kalyan Kosh (MMRKK), the health department has so far distributed Rs 15 crore to the districts and another 15 crore would be distributed  by next week.

He also said that under the MMRKK, funds were distributed based on population and functional health facilities.

It has also been reported that under the state disaster response force (SDRF), an amount of Rs 24 crore has been released against the 26 districts  which was meant for check gate screening, quarantine facility management and contact tracing.

The Capital region, which is the worse hit district, received Rs 169 lakh, Papum Pare Rs 129 lakh, Lower Subansiri Rs 102 lakh and East Siang Rs 136 lakh, under the SDRF fund.

Disaster Management Secretary Dani Salu informed that  an amount of Rs 250 crore was sanctioned by the Government of India to the Arunachal government  under 2020-21 the state disaster risk management fund.

“However, an amount of Rs 125 crore was only released as first instalment to the Government of Arunachal Pradesh from the centre. The finance department had released an amount of Rs 20 crore to the disaster management department, out of Rs 125 crore,” said Secretary Salu.

The secretary further informed that under the Prime Minister Cares Fund Rs 3.6 crore was released. The amount is only meant for transportation of migrant workers, he added.

He also said that Rs 3.10 lakh was released to the railways against the tickets booked for migrant labourers. The remaining amount is still with state government which would be released to the deputy commissioners, depending upon the expenditure they have incurred for the travels of migrant labours.

“No Covid-related activity would be compromised for want of funds. Sufficient funds will be provided for sure,” said Finance Commissioner Prashant Lokhande while speaking to this daily.

Meanwhile, addressing a press briefing on Wednesday, Chief Minister Pema Khandu asserted that his government would soon come out with the white paper on Covid management expenditure along with the status of Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board job scam issue.