Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Jagadish Shettar on Thursday asked panchayats in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts to take up more multi-village water supply schemes to ensure supply of clean drinking water.

Addressing members of Mennabettu Gram Panchyat in Mangalore taluk, the Minister said Mangalore region had a good resource of groundwater and surface water. Panchayats here should give more emphasis on implementing multi-village water supply scheme. The Minister asked panchayats to make use of funds available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. “The scheme is being implemented well in regions where there is more demand for labourers. There is not much demand for labourers in this region,” Mr. Shettar said.

The State so far had spent 50 per cent of Rs. 2,000 crore granted under the scheme this financial year, he added.

Mr. Shettar told presspersons on the sidelines of the programme that his department had proposed allocating annual funds to gram panchayats based on their population from the next financial year. It had been proposed to allocate funds by making three categories based on population. The funds for the three categories are: Rs. 9 lakh, Rs. 12 lakh and Rs. 15 lakh. Asked about the burden caused to gram panchyats in the payment of electricity bills, Mr. Shettar said the power bill to be paid by panchayats was about Rs. 1,000 crore.

He said even if the Government waived 60 per cent of the overdue, it would still be a heft sum for the gram panchayats. To partly offset the burden, the Government proposed to ask the electricity supply companies to charge at domestic rates for the power used by the water supply schemes.

After his meeting with gram panchayat members, Mr. Shettar visited the solid waste treatment plant in the Kinnigoli Gram Panchayat.

He was accompanied by MLA Abhayachandra Jain, Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat president K.T. Shailaja Bhat, and Chief Executive Officer K.N. Vijay Prakash.

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