Staff Reporter

`These will allow MLAs to interfere with the work of zilla panchayats'

The circulars were issued by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Development Department They gave MLAs a say in allocation of funds for projects Congress MLCs staged a walkout in protest against the circulars They said the circulars would affect decentralisation of powers

BANGALORE: Congress members of the Legislative Council staged a walkout on Monday demanding the immediate withdrawal of two circulars issued by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Development Department on allocation of funds.

The circulars said Central funds received under the 12th Finance Commission recommendations Rs. 173 crore for rural roads and bridges and Rs. 36.9 crore for buildings must be disbursed in accordance with the preferences of local MLAs.

Raising the issue, D.M. Putte Gowda (Congress) said the June 26 circular, which asked zilla panchayats to spend the funds only on projects and works preferred by local legislators, was "unconstitutional, and went against the principles of decentralisation of powers to the lowest rung of democracy".

Other Congress members joined Mr. Putte Gowda. Pratap Chandra Shetty accused the Government of attempting to curtail the powers of zilla panchayats and devalue the status of their members. He produced a circular dated March 23, 2006, in which zilla panchayats were asked to only take up the works suggested by MLAs.

Motamma (Congress) said the circulars nullified the institution of the zilla panchayatArun Machaiah (Janata Dal-United) said: "If you can't give them (panchayats) powers, just abolish them."

V.R. Sudarshan (Congress) demanded that the circulars be immediately withdrawn.

Leader of the Opposition H.K. Patil demanded the withdrawal of the circulars.