At a time when panchayati raj institutions are playing a vital role in rural development, zila parishads, panchayat samiti members are unhappy with fund convergence and new guidelines of allocating funds.
On August 16, the state government had notified new funding guidelines, where in 20% of funds would be allotted to zila parishads and panchayat samiti institutions. Of total funds allocated to panchayati raj institutions, 50% would be allocated to zila parishads and 30% to panchayati samitis while rest 20% funds would be allocated to gram panchayats.
Kangra zila parishad president Sresta Kaundal, largest in the state with 56 members, said panchayati raj representatives were elected representatives and owes accountability towards public.
Terming the new guidelines as a 'tactic' to suppress power of panchayati raj institutions, she said panchayati raj representatives have great respect for legislators, ministers and they should also respect the powers given to panchayati raj institutions.
However, panchayati raj and rural development minister Anil Sharma said the government had not cut the funds but earmarked 40% funds for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS). “There is several work heads covered under MNREGS and earmarking funds for MNREGS is also solving the purpose of developmental work,” said the minister.
He said several announcements were made by panchayati raj representative to appease the people and the funds were allotted to Yuvak Mandal, Mahila Mandal buildings.
“Neither the buildings are complete nor the fund have been utilised in a fair manner. To stop the fund 'misuse' we have only framed new guidelines,” said Sharma.
Kullu zila parishad president Hari Chand said in the name of checking corruption, the state government was snatching rights of zila parishads and panchayati samiti members.
“We only propose projects as per demand of people and the funds come from district administration office through a proper channel, how are we involved in corruption,” he added. He said the government had complicated funding mechanism instead of simplifying it.
Earlier, zila parishad members met chief minister Virbhadra Singh and minister Anil Sharma but the government was adamant on its stand.
After issuing a notification on August 16, the government further amended some of its guidelines on September 3 but zila parishads, panchayat samiti members are still demanding complete freedom in term of fund utilisation.