| 26 Sep 2022
Parliamentary Committee dismayed at reduction in CRS budget, slow pace of clearances

New Delhi: A parliamentary committee has expressed concern that the budget estimate of Rs 13 crore for the scheme to help growth of community radio stations was reduced to Rs 2.65 crore at the revised estimate stage, and that full funds could not be utilized due to non-finalisation of mode and content module of activities.

The parliamentary standing committee on information technology, which examines issues related to the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, has also noted that a large number of applications for setting up of CRs are pending with various ministries.

The I&B ministry in its reply said that as of June this year, 124 of the total 134 clearances were pending for more than three months in the home, defence, or human resource development ministries, the WPC wing of the telecom ministry, and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research. The ministry said applications were referred parallel to concerned ministries. Therefore, each application could be pending in multiple ministries.

With regular follow ups, most of the clearances were being received within stipulated time frame. The number of applications pending beyond specified period of 3 months had been substantially reduced, the I&B ministry claimed.

The committee, in its action taken report presented during the session that just ended, was of the view that ‘the matter of pendency of clearances should be taken up with the ministries/agencies concerned for their early clearance.’

On the issue of engagement of a consulting agency for study of the effectiveness of CRSs’, the committee which had members of both houses of parliament, had been informed that out of 16 proposals submitted by different agencies, one agency had been shortlisted and selected. This agency would assess the effectiveness of CRSs. The study was likely to throw light on the training needs and capacity building of personnel.

The committee felt the study would help in finalizing the content module which was partly coming in the way of the successful implementation of the scheme. Further, the ministry needed to identify areas which warranted specific attention so that funds crucial for the scheme did not remain idle and unutilized.

The committee, therefore, asked the ministry to expedite the study and apprise it of the progress made in this regard.