Zilla panchayat objects to withdrawal of funds

CHIKMAGALUR, JUNE 1. The general body meeting of the Chikmagalur Zilla Panchayat on Monday took exception to the State Government recovering unspent funds from it.

The Opposition leader in the House, M.K. Pranesh, sought to know why the funds remained unspent in spite of the demand for implementation of various schemes.

He said that the bills of several contractors had not been paid.

The District Treasury Officer said that Rs. 23.75 crores was in the zilla panchayat's account at the end of March and that as per a government order he had remitted the amount to the Government retaining Rs. 7.32 crore for salaries.

The Zilla Panchayat president, H.M. Satish, said that Rs. 55 lakh sanctioned for drinking water schemes was not utilised.

He asked officials to explain why the funds were not spent.

The Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer, R. Shantharaj, said that part of the unspent money included grants for salaries, which had accumulated over the years. Some of the funds taken back by the Government included Central funds and Rs.1.5 crores earnest money deposit of contractors, which had to be repaid.

He said that taluk panchayats also failed to utilise the funds, and panchayat executive officers would have to provide information on the lapses. Promising that the funds sanctioned by the Centre would not be allowed to lapse, he said that the Finance department was being pressured to repay the recovered amount.

Members, cutting across party lines, expressed dissatisfaction at the funds allotted for drinking water schemes being allowed to lapse in spite of severe drought conditions.

Mr. Shantharaj said that many schemes could not be implemented as the model code of conduct was in force during the elections. The Election Commission had given specific orders not to conduct meetings. Drought relief works were undertaken by the Deputy Commissioner of Chikmagalur and desilting of tanks was given prominence, he added.

Pushpa Lakshminarayan said that bills had not been paid for drinking water schemes in Sringeri taluk. D.N. Jeevaraj, MLA, alleged that new schemes had been implemented in spite of the model code of conduct being in force. The CEO assured that drinking water schemes would be handed over to gram panchayats as per a government notification.

C.T. Ravi, MLA, opposed the Government's new education policy in which the duration of a class had been extended to 80 minutes.

Describing it as unscientific, he said studying the same subject over an extended period would create a burden on the minds of children. Mr. Shantharaj said that the number of topics to be taught had been limited to three a day.

The entire 80 minutes would not be spent on teaching. Dictation and other activities would also be included to avoid homework.

He said Chikmagalur stood eighth in SSLC results this year.