Back to school for graft-ridden Bengal panchayats
The state government has been facing a fund crunch after the Centre decided to not release funds under the MGNREGA scheme.
KOLKATA: Embarrassed by the alleged corruption by panchayat functionaries that have forced Centre’s pause on the release of funds under the MGNREGA scheme, the West Bengal government, for the first time, has decided to include the issue of “malpractice and its consequences’’ in the training syllabus for the elected in the three-tier panchayat elections due next year.
After rural elections, the panchayat department organises training sessions for newly-elected representatives to teach them about the projects and schemes, and the ways of their implementation through the three-tier system—gram panchayat, panchayat samiti and zilla parishad.
In the new syllabus, the elected will not only be directed to maintain transparency while implementing schemes but will also be instructed about consequences in case of violation of the rule book. “The process of the training syllabus in a new format has already been started. The representatives will be taught about the project cost for floating e-tenders and other issues,’’ said an official.
Elaborating on what prompted the panchayat department to induct corruption issue in the syllabus, an officer said, “Taking a cue from the large-scale complaints of corruption by panchayat functionaries which have embarrassed the ruling Trinamool Congress and chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, the state government has decided to take a number of image makeover initiatives. Nabanna, the state secretariat, wants to implement both central state projects to maintain transparency. So the new syllabus will be aimed at a corruption-free panchayat system.’’
“Recently, the finance department issued a notification saying e-tendering is mandatory for any project above Rs 1 lakh. The new syllabus will mention if this rule is violated, stern action will be taken,’’ said another official of the panchayat department.
The state government has been facing a fund crunch after the Centre decided to not release funds under the MGNREGA scheme. The Centre stopped releasing funds in December last year and it is yet to approve the state’s labour budget for 2022-23 fiscal. Last month, the government, which is burdened with ` 70,000 crore debt, passed a bill to enhance its borrowing capacity by amending the West Bengal Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2010.
On the syllabus
West Bengal, for the first time, has decided to include the issue of ‘malpractice and its consequences in the training syllabus for the elected
After rural elections, the panchayat department organises training sessions for newly-elected representatives
The elected representatives will be taught about the project cost benchmark for floating e-tenders and other issues
In the new syllabus, elected representatives will be told about be consequences in case of violation of the rule-book
The state government faces a funds crunch after the Centre decided not to release MGNREGA money