Red Cross wants ?donation? for digging borewells
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Red Cross wants ?donation? for digging borewells

INCIDENTS OF village panchayats having to give donations to Indian Red Cross Society if they are to be granted permission for digging bore wells in villages, have come to light recently.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2006 15:41 IST

INCIDENTS OF village panchayats having to give donations to Indian Red Cross Society if they are to be granted permission for digging bore wells in villages, have come to light recently.

Raising protest against such donations, Sarpanchs have demanded a high-level inquiry into Red Cross collections and their source. Expressing their inability to make financial contribution at government expense, they have demanded to know whether it was legitimate for one government body like Red Cross to seek donation from another government-financed entity like village panchayat.

Normally, Red Cross Society headed by District Collector seeks public donations and issues receipts in return. But what has irked the village Sarpanchs was the Society’s bid to seek charity from panchayat through sub-divisional officer and that, too, for installation of public tubewells meant for supplying water to the whole village.

According to reports, a sum of Rs 1,000 has been collected as Red Cross donation for granting permission to dig bore wells at Ranmal Billod, Jalodiya Panth, Anjada and Bajrangpura villages in Depalpur tehsil that are reeling under acute water shortage.

They form part of 172 villages of Depalpur tehsil where Rs 30.66 lakh have been released for public water supply following recommendations of XII Finance Commission.

Despite the Commission’s recommendations, there are reports of preventing tube well installation by concerned Thana in-charge or the administrative official in certain village panchayats if they avoided contribution. About 70 per cent of rural water resources have dried up in the district with Public Health Engineering Department having no alternative provision for public water supply.

A copy of one such Red Cross receipt (no 5252) finds place in the report of District Panchayat Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashutosh Avasthi submitted to District Collector Vivek Aggarwal recently (see box).

The receipt from Jalodiya Panth submitted at SDO office shows that the amount filled has been altered thrice. Amount of Rs 434 and Rs 1,000 has been scratched before putting in the figure of Rs 1,000 again. There are no signatures on overwriting and receipt book number is also missing, raising doubts over its authenticity. Besides, it carries no date, seal, name or designation of the person who has signed it.

Ranmal Billod panchayat secretary Rajendra Singh, in fact, has filed a written complaint with Depalpur Janpad Panchayat stating that Betma TI prevented digging of bore well. The village panchayat was asked to contribute Rs 1,000 to Red Cross kitty before receiving consent.

“All this raises doubts about the motive,” Avasthi remarked in his report and added that preventing borewell installation by TI and forcing panchayats to deposit Rs 1,000 at SDO’s office for granting permission is against law, including the MP Peyjal Parirakshan Adhiniyam 1986 provisions. The 1986 Act has banned digging borewells by individuals and for irrigation and industrial purposes where SDM’s permission is required.

Avasthi’s report is part of his complaint made to Aggarwal against Depalpur SDO Gopal Singh Dodiya who abused him on phone on February 15 when CEO asked him why the borewells were not allowed to be dug for public supply and told him that there was no provision to seek Red Cross donation for approving tubewell installation nor any permit is required for the project sanctioned under Finance Commission’s recommendations.

Despite being junior to him, Dodiya threatened to drag him to the court. Late in the evening, Avasthi received six missed calls on his cell phone and when he answered the seventh one, the caller posing as PA to Chief Minister pointed out at fund swindling in rural welfare schemes. On tracing the caller’s phone number, it was found to be of Depalpur correspondent of
an Indore-based Hindi eveninger.

First Published: Feb 26, 2006 15:41 IST