Ongole: Cash-starved Sarpanches spend from their pocket on development works

Binginapalli panchayat in Singarayakonda mandal; Munagala Vasantha, sarpanch of Ardhaveedu panchayat(Left); G Veerabhadrachari, founder president of Prakasam district Sarpanches Association(Right)
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Binginapalli panchayat in Singarayakonda mandal; Munagala Vasantha, sarpanch of Ardhaveedu panchayat(Left); G Veerabhadrachari, founder president of Prakasam district Sarpanches Association(Right)

Highlights

  • The govt had promised to pay `5 lakh to `20 lakh to unanimously elected panchayats in the elections held this year
  • However, these unanimously elected sarpanches are still waiting for the release of cash incentives from the government

Ongole: The sarpanches elected unanimously in the Panchayat elections held in four phases from January to February 2021 are still waiting for the release of cash incentives from the government. These sarpanches, who promised the villagers to do a lot of civic works in the panchayat are feeling the pressure at ground level and requesting the officials to see the cash incentives and the finance commission grants are released immediately.

The State government had announced cash incentives to the panchayats in which all the ward members and sarpanches are elected unanimously.

As per the GO No 34 released in January, 2021, the government will give Rs 5 lakh to the panchayats with the population of less than 2,000, Rs 10 lakhs to the panchayats with a population of between 2,000 and 5000, Rs 15 lakh to the panchayats with a population between 5,000 and 10,000, and Rs 20 lakh to the panchayats with more than 10,000 population.

In many of the panchayats across the State, the GO influenced the voters to choose their representative without any election.

In Prakasam district alone, sarpanches and ward members were elected unanimously in 136 panchayats with less than 2,000 population, 52 panchayats with population of more than 2,000 and less than 5,000 population, 3 panchayats including Ardhaveedu of Ardhaveedu mandal, Machavaram and Palukur of Kandukur mandal with a population of between 5,000 to 10,000, and 1 panchayat- Medarametla with population more than 10,000, but they are waiting for the funds for the last nine months.

G Veerabhadrachari, founder president of Prakasam district Sarpanches Association said that the panchayats in the State have no funds in their accounts, as the government transferred the 14 th Finance Commission funds into its account before the special officers handed over the charge to the newly elected sarpanches.

He said that the elected sarpanches spent money brought from private lenders on civic works like roads and water supply, but the government didn't release any funds.

They require the incentives to get relief from the interests at least, he said.

Munagala Vasantha, who was elected unanimously as the sarpanch of Ardhaveedu panchayat, said that believing the assurances of the officials about funds, she spent about Rs 70 lakh for the works in the village in the last six months, but the government didn't sanction any funds to the panchayats.

She said that the government is not releasing even the Finance Commission funds, and the sarpanches elected are unable to take up any works in the villages. She said that they have earmarked development works based on the demands from the public, to take up with the incentives, but no official is responding to their pleas.

However, the Prakasam district panchayat officer GV Narayana Reddy said that the file for the incentives is already in the process at the Finance department. He assured that the government will release the funds soon and advised the sarpanches to not panic.

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