As the Punjab government cleared a Rs 13,000-crore rural development plan, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday announced that the money would be spent on all 12,775 villages of the state in a phased manner over three years.
Ensuring concrete streets and peripheries (phirnis), besides underground piped sewerage, would be the focus of the plan, which was approved here in a meeting attended by rural development minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, education minister Sikander Singh Maluka and other MLAs belonging to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Mindful of recent scams involving funds earmarked for villages, Sukhbir asked the panchayats department to tone up its "lax" audit system. He also asked the department to ensure complete audit of the entire spending, and directed the principal secretary (finance) to work out a "special audit system".
He reiterated that the rural development department would now transfer funds to panchayats through a central banking system and also seek the utilisation certificates within one week of withdrawal of funds.