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Monday 9 December 2019
India SC concerned over non-utilisation of funds for urban shelter

SC concerned over non-utilisation of funds for urban shelter

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has expressed concern over non-utilisation of funds for providing shelters to the urban homeless and non-constitution of committees for the purpose in the urban local bodies of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Seeking a road map from these states on how they plan to provide such shelters, the apex court has observed that the executive committees to oversee the implementation of the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) have not been constituted by most of the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) in the states.

“These three states will also give a road map of what they propose to do for the implementation of the National Urban Livelihood Mission,” a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. The court directed that a senior officer dealing with the NULM should file an affidavit within two weeks and made it clear that no extension of time will be granted.

It noted that no information was available with regard to the status of executive committee in the ULBs in Haryana in the status report filed by the Centre. “As far as the state of West Bengal is concerned, only 6 committees have been constituted out of 125 ULBs and as far as the state of UP is concerned, only 74 committees have been constituted out of 130 ULBs,” the bench noted.

The court is first dealing with the status of 3 states–Haryana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh–among 8 and 2 Union Territories which have been highlighted by the apex court-appointed committee headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice Kailash Gambhir to oversee the implementation of the NULM across the country.

The bench said the Centre’s affidavit does not clearly showcase the status of utilisation of funds for the NULM,while noting that the funds have not even been released to several states like Bihar, Maharashtra and Delhi. The counsel for the Centre assured the bench that the details regarding utilisation of funds and constitution of committees will be made available to the court, especially with respect to the 3 states.

The apex court, while suggesting an audit of the money disbursed by the Centre to the states for a scheme under theNULM, had said it could possibly be done by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and observed that these funds, which are meant for a specific purpose, should not be diverted.

It said such an audit was necessary as the apex court-appointed committee would not look into it. The Centre had earlier informed the court that theunspent amount by states for the previous period stood at Rs 412 crore, while Rs 228 crore was released by it for 2017-18.

The top court had last year slammed the Centre and the state governments for their lackadaisical approach in providing shelters to the poverty-stricken in urban areas despite availability of sufficient funds. It had also observed that the mission of the NULM scheme”remains a distant dream even after lapse of a long period.”

The NULM was launched in September 2013 to reduce poverty and vulnerability of urban poor households. The Centre had earlier told the court that an amount ofRs 1,000 crore, released under the NULM, does not pertain only to urban homeless but to other activities also.

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