Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said candidates contesting gram panchayat (GP) elections lure voters with money and later “recover” poll expenditure by siphoning off funds allocated for social welfare schemes/projects.
While at the inauguration of a State-level consultation with experts on issues related to Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) here, Mr. Siddaramaiah said each candidate contesting GP elections spends roughly Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh for 600 votes in villages. Recovery of poll expenditure by members was one of the reasons for ineffective implementation of schemes. He added that similarly, candidates of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike elections spend Rs. 3 crore to Rs. 4 crore on polls.
“Money power in GP elections needs to be curbed. Drastic changes have to come about to ensure better administration at the GP-level,” he said.
Implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Special Component Plans (SCP) meant for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has not been effective due to lack of commitment by GP members and poor participation of the people in selection of beneficiaries, the Chief Minister said.Execution of the job scheme has been ineffective for the last few years and this has been noticed by the Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh, he said.
Instead of three-tier rural local bodies, he suggested two-tier bodies, which were found to be better in the past. The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments not only empower the rural folk but also Other Backward Classes and women. It is difficult for women to win panchayat elections without reservation, he said.
Noting discrepancies in the selection of beneficiaries under various housing schemes, he said members allot houses among themselves or distribute it among their relatives, without holding gram sabha meetings.
“Amending laws is not difficult, but implementing them is very difficult,” he said. Minister for RDPR H.K. Patil said 5,875 villages are affected by fluoride and arsenic and other chemical contamination in the water.
The model ‘Pure Drinking Water Units’ would be commissioned in 10,000 villages by January 2014, to ensure potable drinking water. The government has decided to implement water purification plants in at least 1,000 villages by next January. There is no dearth of funds for implementation of schemes, he said.