Zilla panchayat to lodge criminal complaint against three officers

Staff Correspondent

They are accused of swindling funds under the National Horticulture Mission

Committee to inquire into the alleged incident

Action promised on the committee’s findings

BELLARY: The general body of the BJP-controlled Bellary Zilla Panchayat, which met here on Tuesday, resolved to lodge a criminal complaint against three officers of the Horticulture Department accusing them of swindling funds.

Immediately after the meeting began, K.A. Ramalingappa drew the attention of the chair to the alleged large-scale swindling of funds by the officials, particularly Nagaraj, senior Assistant Director, and Prasanna. He charged department’s Deputy Director Ramachandra with inaction, though the issue had been brought to his notice.

According to him, Nagaraj and Prasanna had drawn amount meant to be distributed among beneficiaries selected under the National Horticulture Mission. The two had allegedly taken graft from beneficiaries for releasing the amount. He claimed that Nagaraj had gone to his house to offer bribe to drop the issue.

“There are several instances of swindling of funds by these officials and a group of farmers have come here to air their grievances,” he said and urged that action be taken against them.

Mohammed Rafique, pro-tem president, who was in the chair, said that a committee, headed by Mr. Ramalingappa, would be constituted to inquire into the alleged siphoning of funds. He promised to take action based on the findings.

Meanwhile, G. Janardhan Reddy, Minister for Tourism and district in-charge, who came along with J. Shanta, MP, to the meeting, suggested that the beneficiaries give a complaint against the officials in writing to the Chief Executive Officer who could then lodge a criminal complaint against Ramachandra, Nagaraj and Prasanna. He also said an inquiry should be held into the matter to find out the truth. “Until the inquiry is over, let all the three be in police custody,” he said.

CEO targeted

Pushparekha, former panchayat president, questioned the propriety of the Chief Executive Officer S. Rajaram in convening a general body meeting when the various standing committees had not met yet.

“Due to the model code of conduct during Lok Sabha election, the general body had not met and development work had been affected. With that in view, I had asked the CEO to convene the general body meeting to discuss the progress of development schemes.

“The CEO had, in a written reply, said that the general body meeting cannot be convened until the standing committees met. How come the CEO has convened the general body meeting now that too without holding the meetings of the standing committees,” she said.

Intervening in the discussion, Mr. Mohammed Rafique clarified that general body meeting was not convened earlier because of the confusion that was caused by a stay order granted against the elections to the posts of panchayat president and vice-president.

Several members took exception over the failure of the CEO in getting a board put up near a project site mentioning the details of the development work turned out during the present regime.

“We had adopted a resolution in this regard and how is that it has not been implemented,” they asked.

Mr. Rajaram took the officials concerned to task for not putting up the board.

“I do not want to hear the same complaint when I come here to preside over the quarterly review meeting scheduled to be held on July 6. In case the work is still pending, I would recommend severe action,” Mr. Janardhan Reddy said.

K.S.L. Swamy, MLC, N. Rudragouda, Chairman of Standing Committee on Health and Education, Akki Thotesh and G. Umesh among others participated.