Lokesh urges CM to return Rs 1,309 Cr to panchayats

Lokesh urges CM to return Rs 1,309 Cr to panchayats

Govt snatched funds from 12,908 panchayats

No funds to carry out sanitation works in villages

Fund diversion became a curse for rural development

AMARAVATI (prajaamaravati): TDP National General Secretary Nara Lokesh on Tuesday urged Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy to take immediate steps to transfer Rs. 1,309 Cr back into the accounts of the gram panchayats.

In an open letter to the CM here, Lokesh demanded that the Government return all the diverted funds to the panchayats so that the sarpanches would be able to take up developmental activities. In the past two and half years, the AP Government snatched away over Rs. 1309 Cr from over 12,918 panchayats all across the State.

Lokesh termed it as 'unconstitutional' to take away the funds of the panchayats without informing the elected sarpanches and ward members and without having any resolution from the panchayat board. The funds diversion was nothing but disrespecting and betraying the local elected representatives. The accounts of panchayats, which had funds, showed zero balance overnight. This was outright betrayal on the part of the State Government.

Nara Lokesh said the panchayats were not having funds now even to take up sanitation works. The Centre had given hundreds of crores of funds of 14th and 15th Finance Commissions to the panchayats to lay roads, drains, drinking water pipelines, sanitation and street lighting. All these funds were snatched away. Lack of funds had totally ruined the panchayats.

Condemning the Government's 'ulterior plans', Lokesh called it 'irresponsible' on the part of the Finance Minister to defend the transfer of panchayat funds. The Finance Minister was unjustly saying that Rs. 344 Cr of 14th Finance Commission funds released by the Centre four months ago were adjusted towards electricity arrears. In 1984 itself, the NTR regime provided free power for street lighting in minor panchayats that had no income. Chandrababu Naidu, Rajasekhar Reddy and Kiran Kumar Reddy continued it subsequently.

Lokesh accused the YCP Government of resorting to 'goondaism' by taking away Rs 344 Cr in the name of current arrears and without informing the panchayat boards. The Central Government had given guidelines that the panchayat funds should not be diverted. The AP Government was violating all such rules at every step. The State Government owed an explanation on the repayment of loans of Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation.

Nara Lokesh deplored that the YCP regime was diverting funds and committing illegalities in order to get permissions for more loans from the Union energy department. The AP government was already not giving the panchayats their share in the mining cess, professional tax, per capita grant, water cess, sand and mining revenues and also State Finance Commission grant.

Lokesh pointed out that just like how Jaganmohan Reddy was responsible as the Chief Minister for the entire State, the sarpanches were having their own responsibilities to the panchayats. Such sarpanches were now turned into insignificant posts. The diversion of panchayat funds was totally atrocious and against the principles of natural justice.

Nara Lokesh demanded that the Rs. 344 Cr of 14th Finance Commission and Rs. 965 Cr of 15th Finance Commission should be transferred back into the accounts of the panchayats. The ruling party should stop all its unconstitutional methods to undermine the local bodies. The Government should also release the incentives announced for the unanimously elected panchayats.