Staff Reporter

Drought-prone Anantapur penniless

  • People refuse to pay water tax citing free power to farming and drought
  • Rs. 60,000 per annum for each gram panchayat mooted for drinking water, sanitation schemes

    ANANTAPUR: A large number of sarpanches who attended the State Third Finance Commission meeting here on Thursday urged the panel to recommend an increase in allocation of funds to gram panchayats in the perennially drought-prone Anantapur district, as allocation based on population would not suffice the actual needs.

    The funds presently trickling into gram panchayats for maintenance of drinking water schemes, sanitation, streetlights and school buildings were meagre and needed to be hiked appropriately, several sarpanches told the commission.

    They also stated that the impact of frequent drought conditions was putting a strain on their resources.

    Chairman B. Satyanarayan and members N. Gangaiah, C.N.V. Subba Reddy and T. Babji, Chief Statistical Officer M.V. Raghava Rao and others asked the sarpanches to send their requirement of funds in the next five years with detailed explanation through officials of Panchayat Department.

    `Bitter experience'

    Sarpanch of Gandlaparthi in Rapthadu mandal and president of District Sarpanches' Association G. Nallappa said they were unable to collect property tax and water tax from people. They had a bitter experience as the people refused to pay taxes citing free power to farming and drought conditions.

    Another sarpanch, Satyanarayana Reddy of Thimmapuram in Kambadur mandal, requested the commission to recommend huge funds to tackle fluoride problem in the district, as the problem was severe in many villages. "Many sarpanches may not be present before another finance commission in future due to impact of fluoride on their bodies in the years to come, if the Government fails to provide safe water soon", he cautioned.

    Chairperson of Zilla Parishad T. Kavitha said every gram panchayat would require at least Rs. 50,000 for maintenance of drinking water schemes and Rs. 10,000 for sanitation per year.

    Echoing the Chairperson's views, sarpanches of Kalyanadurg, Dampetla, and Hemavathi, Vasundhara, S.V.K. Chowdary and Hanumantharayappa, respectively, said it was getting very difficult to meet the repairs to drinking water schemes with scanty funds.

    A majority of sarpanches failed to project their requirements for the next five years due to lack of proper guidance from the Panchayat Department officials.

    They were simply told to attend the meeting and narrate their problems. But, the objective of the meeting was to collect the views of sarpanches on requirements in the next five years.