No progress in building centre for overseas Indians

The PBK is likely to come up in Delhis Chanakyapuri area

 The MoIA had in 2008 promised to get the PBK ready before the Commonwealth Games, which is scheduled to be held in New Delhi from October 3 to 14 this year. But the ministry had in 2009 stated that it would be ready only by the end of 2011. But the project continued to suffer delay and the MoIA now hopes to complete it by July 31, 2012. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs in its latest report stated that it was not satisfied with the efforts made by the MoIA to make the PBK a reality.

The then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had in January 2004 announced during the second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas that the government would set up the PBK in New Delhi as a centre to deal with multifarious needs of the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origins (PIOs) around the world. Vajpayee had also stated that the government would provide a suitable plot of land and a seed grant of Rs 25 crore for the centre, which would be run by an autonomous body that would also raise additional resources from members of the diaspora.

Though six years have passed since the announcement; the MoIA could not move beyond submission of the centre’s design - prepared by the National Building Construction Corporation Limited to the New Delhi Municipal Council. The NDMC forwarded the design to the Delhi Fire Service and Delhi Urban Arts Commission, which the MoIA hopes would clear it by the end of this month.
The PBK is likely to come up on a plot in the Delhi’s Chanakyapuri area, where most of the foreign diplomatic missions are located.

The MoIA secretary A Didar Singh told the parliamentary panel that the PBK was delayed mainly because it had taken 22 months just to get the change of land use from “residential (foreign mission)” to “public and semi-public facilities (socio-cultural)” approved by the Delhi Development Authority on behalf of the Union Ministry of Urban Development. The approval had finally come on February 19 last year, he added.
The Committee on Non-Planned Expenditure of the Union government cleared the project only on August 6 last year, with an estimated cost of Rs 107.22 crore subject to review of cost-estimation in consultation with the Central Public Works Department.
The parliamentary panel headed by the BJP MP Yashwant Sinha asked the MoIA to take up the “matters related to approvals from the concerned agencies at the highest level so that the project may see the light of the day” by July 31, 2012, as per the schedule set by itself. The committee also cautioned that the “schedule would remain on paper” unless “concrete actions” were not initiated by the MoIA.

The Ministry of Finance allocated only Rs 9 crore for the PBK in the Union Budget of 2010-11. But, according to the MoIA officials, at least Rs 40 crore would be required for the purpose in the current fiscal if the project gets started after getting the necessary approval.
DH News Service

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