ROQUE DIAS | NT
MARGAO: Despite the 30 panchayats in Salcete taluka receiving central grants amounting to a total of Rs 6.16 crore for development of the villages, over 50 per cent of these panchayats have failed to utilise the grants received under the 14th Finance Commission in the last three years.
The official records state that only Rs 44.25 lakh of the total grants received has been utilised by the panchayats in the taluka.
Reliable sources in the block development office (BDO) said that 17 panchayats of the total 30 have not utilised these grants which were provided from the year 2015. These panchayats could not constitute the village development committees (VDCs) on time and hence the preparation of the much-needed Gramin Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) was delayed. Most of the village panchayats in Salcete have set up the VDCs and readied their GPDP only recently following which they have forwarded their developmental proposals to the office of the Salcete BDO for approval.
The utilisation of funds received by the panchayats under the 12th and 13th Finance Commission could be further delayed even though many panchayats have submitted many developmental proposals to the Salcete BDO. The delay can be attributed to the lack of manpower with the Salcete BDO, which has only one engineer and one vehicle. The lone engineer in the Salcete BDO, despite the government-sanctioned strength of four, will find it difficult to complete the process of verifying the proposed works physically and then approve the same. Officials in the BDO admitted that the time period of next four months will be insufficient to clear the 400 to 500-odd proposals from different panchayats after physically verifying them. Sources confirmed that several such proposals are already pending in the office of the BDO.
The initial delay was due to the general panchayat election. The outgoing bodies were unable to prepare the VDCs and GPDP as the election was due and the newly elected bodies to the panchayats took time to settle down after getting elected.
“Now that we have completed the process and forwarded the proposals to the BDO for consideration, we hope that the office of BDO speeds up the process,” said a sarpanch. He added that the director of Panchayats needs to depute the required number of staff members including technical staff and clear the pending files pertaining to the proposals related to the 14th Finance Commission. “Only then can the panchayats be asked to prepare another GPDP for the year 2019-2020,” he said.
When it was pointed out that the Salcete BDO, which caters to 30 panchayats, lacks the required manpower and vehicles, which has led to delay in the process of verifying and approving the village developmental proposals, director of Panchayats Ajit Panchwadkar assured to provide another engineer to the Salcete block within a week’s time. He, however, did not assure about another vehicle.
According to information, a total of Rs 6,16,43,124 was provided to the Salcete taluka panchayats from the year 2015-16 onwards. However, these panchayats managed to utilise only Rs 44,2 5,313. The village panchayat of Rumdamol is the luckiest panchayat to receive the maximum funds of Rs 54,62,581 but till date the panchayat has not utilised even a single rupee of the sum received. The village panchayat of Cavelossim received the minimum amount of Rs 6,96,177.
Four panchayats in Salcete – Betalbatim, Colva, Loutolim and Paroda did not have their GPDP ready till August 15 to utilise the 14th Finance Commission grants.
Village panchayats of Ambelim, Aquem Baixo, Betalbatim, Camorlim, Cana Benaulim, Carmona, Cavelossim, Chinchinim, Colva, Dramapur Sirlim, Loutolim, Macazana, Orlim, Rumdamol-Davorlim, St Jose De Areal, Telaulim and Varca did not utilise the funds till mid-August. Sources in the BDO, however, said that a few panchayats have forwarded their proposals in the last ten days and that they are under scrutiny.
Interestingly, none of these 30 panchayats has been able to spend the full amount till mid-August.