The issue of giving No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to people living illegally on government land so that they can get electricity connections dominated the general body meeting of the Udupi Zilla Panchayat here on Saturday.

Raising the issue, K. Raghupati Bhat, MLA, said there were 13,000 people who had constructed their houses illegally on government land in different places in the district. It was essential that the gram panchayats issued NOCs to the owners of these houses so that they could get electricity connections. Electricity was a basic facility, which could not be denied to people. The gram panchayats were in a better position to investigate the status of these houses and grant NOCs to them. Hence, the zilla panchayat should pass a resolution to allow electricity connection to these houses with the permission of the gram panchayats concerned, Mr. Bhat said. Ganapati Sriyan, zilla panchayat member, said the gram panchayats were not giving NOCs to some houses located close to NH 66. Intervening, S.A. Prabhakar Sharma, chief executive officer of zilla panchayat, said that these houses had been constructed illegally on land belonging to the departments of Revenue and Forests. He could not interfere with the powers of other departments.

Hence, he could not direct either the Panchayat Development Officers or the gram panchayats on this matter. If he were to give such a direction, he would be held liable for the violation of rules. Even if the zilla panchayat passed the resolution, his dissent should be noted, Mr. Sharma said.

Mr. Bhat said there was nothing wrong in providing basic facilities such as electricity to people.

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