New Delhi: While the role of the Ministry of Earth Sciences has become more profound in the current context of climate change, a Parliamentary Standing committee noted drastic under-utilisation of allocations made to the Ministry under all of its flagship schemes, an official said.
“The Committee emboldens the fact that the role of the Ministry of Earth Sciences has become more profound in the current context of climate change as well as in acting as an enabler of the Blue Economy through access to the vast oceanic resources and knowledge,” a statement noted.
Further, the increasing number of episodes of extreme weather phenomena has further highlighted the need for enhanced accuracy in prediction and dissemination of weather updates, said the Demand for Grants report on Ministry of earth Sciences by the Standing committee on Environment, Forests and Climate Change .
The Committee observed, with dismay, that under the head ‘O-SMART’ the Ministry was granted Rs 340 crore in R.E. 2022-23 against which it could spend only Rs 143.48 crore, thereby achieving only 29 per cent utilisation (till January 2023).
Similarly under another flagship scheme of the Ministry – REACHOUT, a sum of Rs 63.13 crore was allocated in R.E. 2022-23 against which the Ministry could utilise only Rs 27.43 crore or just 43 per cent.
Deep Ocean Mission, for which the Ministry was granted Rs 300 crore during R.E. 2022-23, it is observed that the Ministry could spend 61 per cent of the allocation which is Rs 184.39 crore.
Further, as against an R.E. allocation of Rs 400 crore the Ministry could spend Rs 209 crore only, about 52 per cent, said the report.
A report said that the Committee is disheartened to see such drastic under-utilisation of allocations made to the Ministry under all of its flagship schemes.
“The severe utilisation across all flagship schemes of the Ministry is indicative of the fact that the Ministry has not been able to achieve its physical targets that it had earlier set out.
“Further, the Ministry’s explanation to the Committee’s concern on such gross under-utilisation and subsequent reduction is not reassuring and recommends the Ministry to ensure optimal utilisation of funds for allocation made in F.Y. 2022-23 as well as in 2023-24,” said the report.
The Committee strongly recommended that the Ministry should do a thorough analysis of the reasons and areas of improvement to ensure that the funds available to the Ministry are deployed towards achievement of the physical targets set and that the flagship schemes of the Ministry do not lose its objective and importance due to these inordinate delays.
The Committee would also like to emphasise that the Ministry should chart out a detailed action plan on integrating with the private sector in augmenting the reach and efficacy of the services offered by the Ministry especially in the field of weather forecast, disaster management, fisheries, etc., said the report.