Special Correspondent

It will see if GPs are implementing quota for minorities

Gram panchayats are implementing it under Centrally-sponsored schemes

National-level committee will ensure the schemes reached the beneficiaries

SHIMOGA: Col. D.O. Nathan, member of the National-level Monitoring Committee of the Union Ministry of Rural Development, began his five-day tour of Shimoga district to see whether the 15 per cent reservation for minorities being extended under a Centrally-sponsored Indira Awas Yojana and the Swarna Gram Sadak Yojana were being implemented by gram panchayats effectively.

Addressing a press conference at the Shimoga Zilla Panchayat before taking up a review here on Monday, he said that though the earmarking of 15 per cent of reservation benefits for minorities under these schemes could not be treated as a statutory reservation as being ensured to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, it had become necessary to earmark a certain portion of the benefits to ensure equitable coverage for them under the new 15-point Prime Minister’s programme for rural development.

Col. Nathan said that the monitoring committee had taken up the review to see whether the benefits reached the beneficiaries properly so that they could be brought on par with other sections of society.

He said that the intention of the committee was to ensure that interests of the minorities were not overlooked and that they were well represented under the Indira Awas Yojana and the Swarna Gram Sadak Yojana. He said that he would review the functioning of self-help groups of minorities which had taken up several welfare measures. The Government, apart from granting subsidy, would help them in obtaining loan from financial institutions at a lower rate of interest.

Col. Nathan said that according to the 2001 Census there were 20,00,979 Muslims, 26,476 Christians, 9,513 Jains, 171 Buddhists and 289 Sikhs in the district. He said that as Shimoga district had been treated as a “minorities concentration district”, special attention was being given to ensure the effective implementation of the Indira Awas Yojana and the Swarna Gram Sadak Yojana in a transparent manner.

He said that each beneficiary under the Indira Awas Yojana would get financial assistance for the construction of a house at a cost of Rs. 35,000 and the money would be released through banks in phases depending on the progress made in the construction of houses.

He said that the beneficiaries were required to open savings accounts as the money sanctioned by the Union Government would be released to them by gram panchayats only through banks. He said that there was scope for the beneficiaries to alter or extend houses being constructed under the yojana by raising additional loan. The only condition was that the houses should have smokeless chulas and individual toilets.

Col. Nathan said that he proposed to visit gram panchayats in Sorab, Sagar and Bhadravati taluks where the number of minorities was reportedly high.

He said that he would interact with beneficiaries and elected members of gram panchayats to get feedback on the implementation of 15 per cent reservation under the two schemes.

He said that an inquiry would be instituted at various levels both by the Union and the State Governments to look into the irregularities in the implementation of the two schemes.

Chief Executive Officer V. Anbukumar and Deputy Secretary of the Zilla Panchayat Hemachandra were present.

Later, Col. Nathan held discussions with the officers of the District Lead Bank and the officials concerned with the implementation of the two Central schemes.