Staff Correspondent

The ZP aimed to make 50 villages eligible for the Nirmal Gram Puraskar

Officials allege that rampant corruption has led to non-implementation of scheme

We do not want to use waste to flush toilets,

say residents

MYSORE: Of the 120 gram panchayats in Chamarajanagar, classified by the Nanjundappa Committee Report on Regional Imbalances as the most backward in the State, not even one gram panchayat has been eligible for the Nirmal Gram Puraskar given under the Centre's Total Sanitation Campaign Programme (TSCP) since its inception.

The TSCP is aimed at achieving complete sanitation and open defecation-free panchayats.

Unsuccessful effort

Efforts by the Chamarajanagar Zilla Panchayat to make at least 50 panchayats eligible by March-end had failed because of the apathy of elected representatives and officials in implementing the programme, panchayat, Chief Executive Office Sundar Naik said.

According to him, the TSCP has been implemented in Udigala, Ummattur, Shivapura in Chamarajanagar taluk, Ramapura, Chikkallur, Hondarabalu, Lakkanahalli in Kollegal taluk, Terekanambi, Begur, Hundipura and Agatagowdanahalli in Gundlupet taluk and Mamballi, Goudalli and Kestur in Yelandur taluk.

NGO involvement

To a question on why not a single village had become eligible for the puraskar, he said that authorities concerned had not taken people into confidence to implement the programme. “Now, we have involved non-governmental organisations in our endeavour to create awareness among the people in all panchayats, and the response is encouraging,” he said.

Expenditure

He said that the zilla panchayat had received Rs. 9.96 crore till 2010 for the implementation of the TSCP and spent Rs. 9.50 crore in the last five months.

Sources in the zilla panchayat attributed the dismal performance of the gram panchayats to rampant corruption, not only in the implementation of the sanitation programmes, but also other welfare programmes.

‘Initiate enquiry'

“Programmes envisaged by the Government for the development of villages are not reaching the grass roots; works are not being identified through gram sabhas and members of gram panchayats are pocketing the funds released. To have a clear understanding of the misappropriation of funds, an enquiry should be ordered into the schemes taken up under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGREGA),” a zilla panchayat official, who spoke to The Hindu on the condition of anonymity alleged.

Flush with funds

According to him, corruption which was rampant in the issue of domicile certificates, transfer of land and house records and distribution of benefits had now spread to schemes under the MGREGA, for which gram panchayats were flush with funds. Many of the gram panchayats were lagging behind in the collection of taxes. “Nearly 50 per cent of them have not collected even 20 per cent taxes,” he said.

‘Unlucrative'

The puraskar, which aims at recognising the efforts of the gram panchayats in achieving total sanitation in their areas of operation, is reportedly not lucrative for elected representatives. It is significant that if a village with a population of less than 5,000 qualifies for the award, it gets an Rs. 2-lakh incentive.

Though the Government is offering financial assistance to construct toilets and dig pits, panchayats have failed to educate people on the need for sanitation.

Village residents, fed up with the drinking water scarcity in the region, argue that they do not want to waste the water, they have trekked long distances to fetch, in flushing toilets.

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