A downward revision in the projected outlay for '01-02 of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry from Rs 1080.9 crore to Rs 811.4 crore, has caused a delay and stretched the implementation of projects.
The immediate victim of this would be the public broadcasting media — which would lag behind in the face of competition from private broadcasters as well. The reduced outlay has adversely affected 13 continuing schemes, 24 modernisation and replacement schemes and seven new projects.
According to the latest report by the Standing Committee on Information Technology, the trend has been seen even in '00-01. It adds that such frequent downsizing of Plan outlay is "nothing but a negation of Planning."
The Committee, headed by Somnath Chatterjee, found that important schemes of AIR like setting up MW transmitters at Bhadarwah, Saraipalli, Mandla and Manjeri which were approved between '86 and '94 were still hanging in limbo.
Similarly, in the case of infrastructure projects like broadcasting centres, community radio centres, MW transmitters and earth station digital uplinking, the achievement during '00-01 was far from satisfactory, as the ministry in the coming months is likely to complete only four broadcasting centres against the target of 10. Not a single community radio station is likely to be completed against the target of five.
Similarly in the case of Doordarshan, the achievement in the IX Plan so far is 17 studios against the target of 23, 13 HPT DD-I in place of 40 planned, 30 HPT DD-II in contrast to the 40 targetted and 300 LPT/VLPTs as opposed to 422 expected. The achievement in '99-00 was no better.
Since these infrastructure projects are instrumental in ensuring the reach of the public broadcaster, the committee has urged the ministry to take up the matter seriously.
The non-performance of Prasar Bharati should not deprive the people of the benefits of broadcasting services, the committee added.