IAS officer sees cure to H-K ills in board postings

IAS officer sees cure to H-K ills in board postings

Even as he faces heat of the North Karnataka issue, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy was baffled when, at the recent deputy commissioners’ meeting, IAS officer Subodh Yadav used data to represent the grim pace of development in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.

Since 2013, the government has pumped in Rs 4,381 crore towards development of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, which enjoys special status under the Constitution (Article 371J), owing to its backwardness. It turns out that only about half of the money that was allocated has been spent, with several infrastructure works sanctioned four years ago still under progress.  

Upliftment of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region is done through the Hyderabad-Karnataka Region Development Board (HKRDB), which was established in November 2013 after the region received special status under the Constitution. The HKRDB covers 40 Assembly segments in Bidar, Ballari, Kalaburagi, Koppal, Raichur and Yadgir districts.

Yadav, a 1999-batch officer who was appointed HKRDB secretary and Kalaburagi regional commissioner last month, told Kumaraswamy at the meeting that the board lacked institutional capacity to execute development works. He pointed out that more than half of the posts at HKRDB were vacant - 40 out of 83 sanctioned positions are filled. This explains why out of 13,656 works sanctioned over the years, only 7,902, or 57%, have been completed.

According to sources, Yadav pitched for restructuring of the HKRDB and presented a comparative analysis to underline his point: Prior to the formation of HKRDB, zilla panchayats received an average Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore towards development works. Now, zilla panchayats get Rs 1,000 crore, but the execution machinery has not seen commensurate increase in capacity.

The slow pace of development is at the centre of the demand for a separate state of North Karnataka, which has put the Congress-JD(S) government on the defensive.

People of Kaalamandargi village of Kamalapur in Kalburgi district are risking their life to collect water by climbing on the platforms of the well which the district administration fill from tankers. DH Photo by KRISHNAKUMAR P S

Following Yadav’s presentation, Kumaraswamy said he wanted to review the Hyderabad-Karnataka region separately given the prevalent challenges. On his part, Yadav has taken to social media to air his views. In one tweet, Yadav summed up Hyderabad-Karnataka’s development thus: “There is a need to strengthen the HKRDB to really work effectively. Else nothing much can be expected when nearly all important posts are vacant. Similar situation is faced by implementing agencies in the districts. We need to come out with some effective solution to this problem.”

Kalaburagi district minister Priyank Kharge expressed concern that spending toward H-K development could take a hit this year due to polls. “We lost nearly four months due to the Assembly elections. Now, we have the code of conduct for the CMC/TMC elections. Then, there are a couple of taluk panchayat elections. Quite naturally, we will take a hit this year. But that doesn’t mean work hasn’t happened.”

Read more: What neglect? HDK's budget has more for N Karnataka

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