Parliamentary panel dissatisfied with fund utilisation by PSUs in Mines Ministry

NEW DELHI(PTI): A Parliamentary panel on Wednesday expressed its displeasure over the under-utilisation of funds by the public sector undertakings (PSUs) under the Ministry of Mines.

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The Standing Committee on Coal and Steel, chaired by Rakesh Singh, in its report on action taken by the government on observations and recommendations made by the committee also suggested that Mines Ministry should “vigorously monitor” the PSUs to ensure better performance during the current fiscal.

The committee while expressing its concern over the under utilisation of planned funds year-after-year by various PSUs under the Mines Ministry had observed serious shortcomings in implementation of ongoing projects as well as setting of unrealistic targets, it said in the report.

The committee notes that the Ministry in its action taken informed about certain steps taken by NALCO to achieve the plan targets, which includes regular review meeting and monitoring of plan expenditure at corporate level and at CMD’s level on monthly basis.

Further, a quarterly review of the plan expenditure at Ministry level has also been prepared for course correction of the plan expenditure.

“The committee nevertheless is unhappy to note that the reply of the Ministry is silent on the corrective steps taken by other PSUs to improve utilisation of funds.

The committee, therefore, finds it necessary to recommend that Ministry apprise them of the action taken by other PSUs like Hindustan Copper Ltd and Mineral Exploration Corp Ltd for utilisation of earmarked funds during 2015-16,” the report added.

With a view to ensure prudent fiscal management, the committee also said that it wishes to “emphasise upon the Ministry of Mines to vigorously monitor these PSUs for ensuring better performance during the current fiscal.” On the restructuring of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), the committee asked the Ministry to complete the process in a time-bound manner.

The committee in its original report had taken note of the ongoing review and restructuring of IBM and felt its role needs to be redefined in the wake of transfer of 31 minerals as minor minerals to States after Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act 2015 came into force.

In this regard, the committee notes from the action taken reply of the Ministry that a Monitoring Committee is presently examining the sphere of redefining the concrete role for IBM.

Besides, Mines Ministry is also examining possibility of extending Mineral Concession Rules to all minerals including minor minerals which may take some time, the report said.

The Ministry has said that after receipt of the report by the Monitoring Committee, it will examine action plan for IBM.

The panel suggested that the process of examination of issues pertaining to review, restructuring and redefining the role of IBM should be completed in a time-bound manner and the committee should be apprised of the status within 3 months of the presentation of the report, it added.