Centre seeks UC of PRASAD scheme from Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The Central Government has asked the expenditure details of the Rs 10 crores given to Odisha Government, two years back, for the development of Puri, Ramchandi and Deuli under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme.

The Tourism Ministry has informed that the second phase of funds will be released only after the State submits the detail expenditure report. But the State Government is not able to submit the utilisation certificate (UC) as it had spent only Rs 1.5 crore till date.

The State had received Rs 10 crore in the first phase after Puri district was included in the PRASAD scheme. The money was meant for the development of Puri, Ramchandi and Deuli. But the State Government remained silent after preparing the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and only Rs 1.5 crore was spent.

Meanwhile the Tourism Ministry has written a letter to the Odisha Tourism Department Principal Secretary, Arti Ahuja, to submit the utilisation certificate after which only the rest funds will be released.

State Government had spent Rs 1.5 crore for the peripheral development of Deuli during Nabakalebara. After which not a single dime was spent. State Tourism Minister Ashok Panda said that as there are some issues relating to the DPR, the department was not able to spend further money.

Not only DPR but the State Government targeted India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), a company under Ministry of Tourism, for not undertaking the development work.

Talking to media persons Panda said, “We have spent Rs 1.5 crores, if the ITDC performs the developmental works than only we can submit the UC.”

He further added, “Work at some places also need permission from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is a difficult task and Puri district Collector has also said that work at the places identified in the DPR is difficult.”

However the BJP said it is unfortunate that the State Government, which is alleging the centre to be ignorant, is not able to spend money for development of Puri.

State BJP Vice-President Samir Mohanty said, “Funds came after a provision was made in Central Budget but they are not able to spend the money and not giving UC, as a reason of which more funds are not released. It is very unfortunate as the State is cheating the people.

“If they are asking about UC, it is also the responsibility of ITDC, as the executant of the project, to undertake the work,” said Tourism Minister Panda in his reply.

It may be mentioned that Rs 52 crores has been allotted for Odisha under the PRASAD scheme and Rs 10 crore had been released in the first phase but now as the State Government is unable to submit the UC, the release of second phase funds is in doubt.