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Cap on fund spending clips wings of sarpanches

Cap on fund spending clips wings of sarpanches
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The sarpanches, whose term would end by July 31, have received a rude shock from the State government as it imposed restrictions on spending the funds of 14th Finance Commission FC released for thisfinancial year

Hyderabad: The sarpanches, whose term would end by July 31, have received a rude shock from the State government as it imposed restrictions on spending the funds of 14th Finance Commission (FC) released for this financial year.

The government has directed the officials of Panchayat Raj department to ensure that the funds were used for specific purposes, particularly for sanitation-related works. It may be recalled that recently the State government has released Rs 500 crore to the gram panchayats under the grants from the 14th Finance Commission as first installment. Each rural district has received about Rs 20 to 25 crore.

Though the panchayats are free to spend these funds as per their needs, the State government has imposed restrictions on their spending. The Finance Commission grants funds to the gram panchayats through the State government on the basis of the population of the village. These funds could be used for salaries, maintenance and development works in the panchayats. The works should be taken up on the recommendations of the Gram Sabha.

This financial year, however, the State government has imposed restrictions on their spending and has given directions that they should be used for sanitation-related works like sweeping, drainage repairs etc.
The sarpanches who have been waiting for the past three-and-a-half months for the release of the funds were taken aback by the restrictions imposed. They have been contemplating to take up works in villages to make gains in the upcoming panchayat polls.

Some sarpanches have spent money from their own pockets to construct toilets, drainages, repair of water supply scheme motors and others in the previous financial year. They felt that bills could be drawn if the funds were released in the first half of this financial year. According to officials, the restrictions have been imposed to ensure that they were not misused by the outgoing sarpanches. Officials said that as the term of the sarpanches would end by July 31, they might indulge in frauds to make money.

The gram panchayats would be placed under the rule of special officers from August 1. The special officers would take decision on the spending of funds from then onwards. This would ensure transparency in the spending. After the takeover of panchayats by the special officers, the restriction would be eased. Few sarpanches alleged that from August 1, the ruling party MLAs would use the offices of special officers to spend funds in the panchayats.

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