New Delhi,Jyotika Sood(DNA): Ministry of overseas Indian affairs fails to fulfil PM’s commitment. Indian diaspora visiting Delhi for Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) from January 7 to 9 won’t be able to access Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra this year. All thanks to ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) which has failed to complete the project despite a commitment by prime minister to the NRIs last year that the project would be ready for use by them from PBD 2015.
Coming up at cost of over Rs 90 crore in Chankyapuri area of New Delhi, Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra was supposed to serve as a focal point of the institutional framework for over 27 million Indians overseas. It would house a research centre, Indian Cultural Centre, guest rooms, business centre, exhibition halls, restaurants and other facilities so that it acts as a hub for sustainable, symbiotic and mutually rewarding economic, social and cultural engagement between India and its diaspora.
The inordinate delay in building the kendra has happened despite the project being reviewed by secretary MOIA and regular inspections by IIT Kharagpur.
The construction of PBK is being undertaken by the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), which has been appointed as the consultant and project manager on a turn-key basis from concept to completion that is planning, designing, construction, furnishing, equipping etc.
Talking to dna, an official from NBCC on condition of anonymity said, “Paucity of funds has been a major reason. Till August 31, 2014, around Rs 78 crore have been spent by NBCC, while the ministry has paid us just Rs 68 crore.” He refused to comment further.
While officials from the ministry of overseas were unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts, the Parliament Standing Committee report submitted in December 2014 raised serious doubts on sincerity of ministry to pursue the project.
The committee stated that they “have a serious doubt about the sincerity with which the ministry pursued the project because they find that the ministry’s demand for the project at Budget estimate 2014-15 was Rs 4 crore only against which the ministry of finance had made an allocation of Rs 15 crore at Budget estimate 2014-15.
The idea of PBK was conceived during Second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2004, when then the prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced setting up of a Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in Delhi. The idea was floated following persistent demand for over a period of time for establishing a PBK to commemorate the trials and tribulation, as well as subsequent evolution and achievements of the diverse Indian diaspora.
It was translated into reality in 2011 by the UPA government. Then prime minister Manmohan Singh had unveiled the foundation stone during the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2011 in New Delhi and the construction work started on May 1, 2011 and was to be completed by April 2013. However, visit to the project shows that it would take more than six months to complete it.
The article is first appeared on dna