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Fund crisis stalls constituency projects too

CHENNAI NOV. 7. Even as the Tamil Nadu Government continues to grapple with a financial crisis, the Constituency Development Fund of the Members of the Assembly appears to have become a major casualty.

Works under the scheme, designed to provide for even development in the State, are held up for want of funds despite the MLAs having submitted proposals. Last year, only about 50 per cent of the works were completed in most constituencies. This year, nothing seems to be moving, says a cross-section of legislators. Although the Government took away the discretion of the MLAs for spending Rs. 50 lakhs out of the total of Rs. 82 lakhs and apportioned another Rs. 15 lakhs for drinking water facilities to tackle drought, it is slow to release even this fund for development works. Only drought relief saw a measure of urgency.

Where tenders were called, work orders have not been given. Where work orders were given, funds have not been released.

The CPI(M) leader in the Assembly, J. Hemachandran, says the District Collectors are pleading lack of funds for the delay in taking up the development works. In his Tiruvattar constituency, apart from Rs. 5 lakhs sanctioned for drought relief, funds were not available for either the schemes earmarked by the Government or the proposals submitted by the MLAs. The Perambur MLA, K. Mahendran, also of the CPI(M), said that for 2001-02, tenders had been called for construction of three public conveniences at a cost of Rs. 7.5 lakhs. But work orders were not given as yet. The works held up included construction of hostels for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes and buildings for village administrative officers.

Things are not very different for the CPI leader in the House, G. Palanichamy, who represents Thiruthuraipoondi. His proposals for road development works have not crossed the paper stage.

In Coimbatore district, more than 30 works meant for 2001-02 and the current year are pending. The Congress MLA from Coimbatore East, V.K. Lakshmanan, said only two works had been completed in his constituency. The Valparai MLA, Kovai S. Thangam, said the Government had released the second instalment of Rs.41 lakhs for last year only a month ago.

The Singanallur MLA, K.C. Karunakaran, said only 50 per cent of the works recommended during 2001-02 had been completed so far. Of the proposals given during 2002-03, technical sanction alone had been given for many of the works.

The Congress member from Coimbatore West, S. Maheshwari, said the works for last year had been completed, but the first instalment for the current year was yet to be released. Her list of proposals was yet to be cleared. In Dindigul and Theni districts, the funds for the previous year have been cleared, but the resource crunch is stalling the works for the current year.

The Palayamkottai DMK MLA, T.P.M. Maideen Khan, said 90 per cent of the funds for the previous year were released. The rest was expected anytime now. But there is no word about funds for the current year.

The Usilampatti MLA, L. Santhanam of the All-India Forward Bloc, an ally of the AIADMK, said the Government had no option but to "divert" funds to execute drought relief works. The MLAs in Madurai, Virudhanagar and Sivaganga districts, cutting across party lines, admitted that 10-15 per cent of funds had been pending for 2001-02. "Technical reasons are cited for non-sanctioning of funds," said the AIADMK's Sholavandan MLA, Rajangam.

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