Tuesday, August 29

Punjab's Poor Show

Punjab fares badly in supplying water and houses for the poor, according to The Tribune editorial
Punjab ranks 29th in a countrywide survey on the implementation of Central programmes. Manipur is at the bottom and Punjab is one slot above. To add to the shame of Punjab, its neighbours have performed much better. Himachal Pradesh has rather excelled by securing the first position and Haryana is in the middle of the ladder at number 15. Even UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are ahead of Punjab. The Health Department of Punjab has perhaps saved the state from facing utter ignominy by doing a better job of immunising children and managing the integrated child development scheme, a fact appreciated in the Centre's survey.
Once again it is in providing drinking water to villages that the Punjab Government has badly slipped. The target given was to make potable water available in 800 villages. The government could cover only 417 villages. Earlier, the state had lost a considerable Central grant for failing to use it for arranging water for villagers. Another area in which the state's dismal performance stands out is in building houses for the poor. Under the Indira Avas Yojna the state could meet only 61 per cent of the given target of constructing 6,730 houses.
Of late the Centre has become commendably more proactive in monitoring the implementation of its schemes at the state level. Grandiose plans floated with fanfare quite often lose impact during their execution. Such surveys do help in keeping the states on their toes and separating laggards and performers. However, the Punjab leadership does not seem to have learnt any lesson. Last year the state was placed at number 27. Will the downward journey continue? Actually, development is not a priority with Punjab politicians who waste their time in politicking. The bureaucracy, indifferent and unconcerned by nature, takes it easy. No wonder, the once-progressive state's growth rate has slipped below the national average. It is a pity.