JOAO SOUSA M | NT
Panchayats in the Salcete taluka have missed out on two grants under the 14th Finance Commission for the financial year 2017-18 owing to poor utilisation of funds, with over Rs 4.19 crore remaining unutilised since 2015.
As per information available, only nine out of the 30 panchayats in the taluka have utilised a part of the funds, which were released to the panchayats in installments since 2015.
The village panchayats of Curtorim, Assolna, Navelim, Davorlim, Chandor, Paroda, Rachol, Sarzora and Velim have utilised a meagre amount of Rs 21.65 lakh on developmental works.
Highly placed sources in the directorate of panchayats, requesting anonymity, said that the panchayats were due to receive two installments for the first half of the financial year 2017-18. However, no installments have been received due to the failure on the part of the panchayats to provide fund utilisation certificate.
The source said that at present funds over Rs 4.19 crore are lying unutilized, as the panchayats have not followed proper procedures despite all support given to them. The source said that in the first year of the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission grants, there were some technical glitches which were addressed in the financial year 2016-17. Despite that, the panchayats failed to constitute proper village development committees and get gram sabha approvals as a result of which the Salcete block development officer (BDO) could not prepare estimates for the proposals.
The official said that till date a total of Rs 4,40,32,206 has been distributed among the panchayats since 2015. Ironically, none of the panchayats has been able to produce a 90 per cent utilisation certificate for the funds distributed.
As per information available, the village panchayat of Assolna took up works to the tune of Rs 3.17 lakh while having an amount of Rs 5.72 lakh unutilised while the Chandor panchayat is left with an unutilised balance of Rs 5.67 lakh even though the panchayat took up works to the tune of Rs 1.98 lakh.
Curtorim panchayat managed to utilise Rs 5.89 lakh of the Rs 33.62 lakh granted. In Navelim, only Rs 58,186 of the Rs 29.09 lakh, which was disbursed, has been utilised. The Rachol panchayat, on the other hand, has a balance of only Rs 92,330 of the Rs 4.4 lakh allocated to the panchayat. Sarzora panchayat managed to utilise Rs 1.9 lakh while Velim panchayat managed to utilise Rs 3.62 lakh of the Rs 15 lakh allocated.
The village panchayats, on the contrary, have blamed the Salcete BDO for failure to prepare estimates despite proposals being sent in time after following the procedures. “We took a lot of pain in preparing the village plans and submitted them to the BDO but the engineers did not prepare the estimates. Hence, the proposals could not be cleared,” said a panchayat secretary, requesting anonymity.
“The panchayats cannot be blamed for the poor utilisation of funds. At the time of implementation, we were promised a simplified process to obtain approval but the entire process became a farce, as the BDO’s office could not cope with the pressure of the proposals. Nearly 80 per cent of the proposals are still pending with the engineering department,” said the secretary.
Former Rachol sarpanch Joseph Vaz said that the government has been ‘playing’ with the panchayats and forcing them to form village development committees and subsequently village development plans. “However, all the effort which was put in during the last term has failed to bear fruit due to the lethargy of the officials and we had to make several visits to get the works passed,” he said.