HYDERABAD: Trouble had been brewing for some time at the gram panchayat (GP) level, with the cash-strapped State government not releasing funds for the GPs, despite them winning plaudits from even the Union government for the development works done.
With pending bills mounting, sarpanches at many places mortgaged their personal belongings and some even took up menial jobs to pay the interest on the loans taken to carry out village development works. Marreguda Sarpanch M Santhamma said that she had mortgaged her mangalsutra to pay the loans raised for the developmental works in the village.
Another woman sarpanch in Warangal turned into an NREGA worker recently. In Tamsi mandal of Adilabad, sarpanches got into an argument with the MPO. Mandal president of sarpanches K Sadanandam demanded that the pending bills be cleared before the next phase of Palle Pragathi begins on June 3.
It may be remembered that several sarpanches from Rajanna-Sircilla district had recently threatened to resign over the pending bills. While they softened their stance after speaking to an official, they said they wo-uld continue their agitation at the Palle Pragathi meetings.
The fact that the sarpanches are doing a good job is accepted by one and all - the Centre recently announced that 19 out of the top 20 best villages in the country are from Telangana. "The Centre is complimenting Palle Pragathi as it should, but it has not yet released funds in the first two months of this financial year," State government sources say.
TRS leaders say that while Telangana villages are role mo-dels for the rest of the nation, due to the Centre's animosity against the State government, it is derailing the programme. However, while praising sarpanches for working for the development of the villages by taking loans, BJP State president Bandi Sanjay accuses the TRS government of weakening the Panchayat Raj institutions.
Stirring the pot
Sanjay alleged that the pending bills range from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 20 lakh in each village and blamed the State government for the plight. He said that the Centre has been releasing funds to the State for the construction of Vaikuntha Dhamams, Rythu Vedikas, Palle Prakruthi Vanam, dump yards and other works.
"The Centre is releasing 100 percent of its share but the State is not. This shows the State government’s commitment towards village panchayats," Sanjay alleged.
In an open letter to the sarpanches on Tuesday, the BJP State president urged them to fight against the State government for their pending bills and rights. Seeking the support of sarpanches, he said that he would launch a silent protest against the TRS government.
Figure of speech
Rs 9,560.32 cror was spent from September 2019 to till May 2022 in 12,745 villages
Vaikuntha Dhamams, dump yards, nurseries, parks, rythu vedikas, drying platforms and other works are taken up in the villages
Rs 1,013 crore is yet to reach the State from the Centre as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission
The dues from the Centre for NREGS works are Rs 1,100 crore