Staff Correspondent

Raichur: The Karnataka State Gram Panchayat Employees’ Association has decided to organise a three-day Statewide dharna at all the taluk panchayats from August 18, demanding recruitment of staff in all the gram panchayats in the State, and setting up of an authority at the gram panchayat level to streamline the distribution of sites and houses to the poor.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Maruti Manpade, president of the State unit of the association, said that staff shortage in gram panchayats had affected development programmes in rural areas.

Maladministration by secretaries in gram panchayats had led to misuse of funds.

There was a need to provide necessary staff for smooth functioning of gram panchayats, he said. The criticism of the functioning of bill collectors in gram panchayats by Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Shobha Karandlaje was wrong.

The bill collectors, who had been appointed on a daily wage basis, had been functioning properly. The administration in gram panchayats had been affected due to shortage of staff, he said.

Mr. Manpade said that there was a need to recruit at least five employees, including development officer, first and second division clerks and a diploma engineer, in each gram panchayat to streamline the administration and to implement development works.

Annual grant

The Government should enhance the annual grant for each gram panchayats to Rs. 25 lakh. The present grant of Rs. 6 lakh would not be enough to achieve the projected development in rural areas, he said.

A proposal to recruit nearly 7,000 staff for gram panchayats had been pending. The Government should take steps to implement it and enhance the annual grant to gram panchayats in the Budget, he said.