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Kerala: Big blow for ‘Hub and Spoke’, CAG calls it a failure

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Thiruvananthapuram: The much publicised ‘hub and spoke’ Kerala model for IT development has turned a cropper, a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said.

It was learnt from the report, which was tabled in Kerala assembly on Monday (June 29) and made available on Thursday, that 80.76 percent of the built up area at seven locations remained unallocated as the land acquired was mainly in remote localities and not suitable for IT purposes.

Speaking to IANS on Thursday, Kerala IT secretary P.H. Kurian said that they are doing their best to showcase these locations to prospective investors.

n6 hub and spoke
The CAG audit reports pointed out that it was as per the IT Policy 2007 that envisaged creation of a ‘hub and spoke model’ of IT development with two large IT parks at Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi functioning as the hub for smaller IT parks in other parts of the state.

The CAG report said that KSITL acquired 402.65 acres of land at seven different places in the state to set up the ‘hub and spoke’ model for IT development.

The IT Policy 2007 came when V.S. Achuthanandan-ruled Left government was in office from 2006-11.

Incidentally, it was the state-owned Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITL), which was responsible for the development of IT cities in the public private partnership model and had set up these new IT parks under the ‘hub and spoke’ model.

“The land acquired was mainly in remote localities and was not suitable for IT purpose. As a result 320.66 acres of land was not allotted till-November 2014,” said the CAG report.

Incidentally, the state government incurred a cost of Rs.229.88 crore for acquisition of land and for developing infrastructure facilities in these seven locations.

The seven locations include Kundara (Kollam district),Ambalappuzha and Cherthala (both in Alappuzha district), Koratty (Ernakulam), Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod.

Of these, at Amabalapuzha, Kannur and Kasargod, the land has been acquired, while at the other places, the percentage of idling of land was as high as 77.34 percent.

(IANS)

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AAP’S Media Spend Is Four Times That Of Previous Government: RTI Reply

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP's one year in power in 2016

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AAP
Picture of Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally. Wikimedia Commons
  • The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore
  • The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government
  • A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016

The AAP government has spent an average of Rs 70.5 crore annually in the past three years on advertisements — four times more than the previous government’s expenditure on print, electronic and outdoor advertising, according to an RTI reply.

In the first year after assuming office in February 2015, the current government spent Rs 59.9 crore on advertisements, Rs 66.3 crore the next year and Rs 85.3 crore up to December 31, 2017, the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) said in reply to an RTI application by IANS.

The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore. The Congress’ average was Rs 17.4 crore in the last five years of its rule (2008-2013).

Also Read: AAP welcomes BJP’s stand on inter-faith marriages

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers.

For instance, when the AAP government completed its first and second anniversary in 2016 and 2017, leading newspapers in the capital carried full-page advertisements, highlighting the achievements of the government.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons
The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons

In the run-up to celebrating its three years in office, the government in the first two weeks of February carried advertisements flashing pictures of the Chief Minister or other ministers. The highlights included the inauguration of community toilets, excellence awards distribution for students, a government meeting on “smart gaon”, and invitation of applications for scholarship schemes.

The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government.

Also Read: Blow for Kejriwal: EC recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs

But the average advertisement rate charged by a leading English newspaper, comparing the Congress government and AAP government periods, has increased by about 17 percent, according to DAVP.

For the same period, the average rate charged by another leading English newspaper has increased by about 35 percent.

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016.

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons
According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements.

Last year, the government came under an opposition attack after Lt. Governor Anil Baijal asked the AAP to cough up Rs 97 crore spent on advertisements, allegedly to promote the party instead of the government. The LG order was based on a report by the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA).

Also Read: 5 Years of AAP: How Society Has Been Backstabbed by ChandaChor Kejriwal

The regulatory authority asked the Delhi government to assess the expenditure in issuing “those advertisements/advertorials in which the name of the Aam Aadmi Party is mentioned” and other factors.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there.

Delhi government spokesperson Nagendar Sharma said he has “no comments” to offer on the increase in expenditure.

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons
The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken said: “They (AAP) are using the power of advertisements to put pressure on TV (channels) and newspapers. They are doing it ruthlessly”.

BJP MLA and Delhi Assembly Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta termed the government’s spending on advertisements as “irrational”. “Misuse of public money in this way is completely unjustified and unethical,” Gupta told IANS. (IANS)