Govt to set up special fund for novel projects

Undeterred by the poor response from senior officers at the State Secretariat, the State government is now planning to set up the District Innovation Fund (DIF) to encourage out-of-the-box thinking among district-level officers.

The DIF will finance innovative projects and schemes aimed at better delivery of services to people. Besides coming up with fresh projects, innovative projects can be designed on the existing capital assets to increase their efficiency. 

Every district will get Rs one crore under the DIF, and the deputy commissioners will be authorised to select the projects and schemes, which will be vetted by the State government, official sources in the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) said.

The DIF will be completely funded by the Centre. While 90 per cent of the project cost will be financed under the DIF, remaining 10 per cent has to be shared by the local community (beneficiaries) or non-government organisations. The DIF is one of the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission to all states.

Ironically, the State government’s initiative to encourage innovative thinking among heads of various departments, boards and corporations has already been met with a cold response. 

Even three years after setting up the Challenge Fund with Rs 20 crore to finance innovative projects proposed by senior officers, the government has so far received only eight proposals.

Of this, only one proposal on a mechanised system of clearing garbage by IAS officer Pradeep Singh Kharola has received the government’s approval. The project is presently under implementation, sources said.

Unlike the Challenge Fund, the DIF allows use of money in the existing capital assets to provide immediate benefits to people. The DIF will help fill the vital gaps in the available infrastructure which are not being fully utilised for want of small investments.

For instance, a small project can be taken up to plug the leakage of a sluice gate to increase irrigation potential. Similarly, the DIF can be used for providing necessary diagnostic equipment at a government hospital for better service delivery. Such projects can be easily identified at the district level, officials explained.

To bring in competition among districts, the government is also planning to make a provision to reallocate unutilised funds to districts which have come up with more innovative projects. A high-level committee headed by the additional chief secretary will be set up to monitor project implementation. 

Innovative 

* Govt to set up District Innovation Fund to promote out-of-the-box thinking among officials
* DIF aims at better delivery of services to people
* It can also be used for increasing efficiency of the existing infrastructure
* Every district will get Rs 1 crore under DIF

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