Mangaluru, Nov 9,2016: According to reports, Dakshina Kannada zilla panchayat and taluk panchayat members aired woes during an interactive session with the Fourth State Finance Commission here on Nov 8, Tuesday. Members apprised the commission, headed by chairman C G Chinnaswamy, of the problems affecting them following lack of funds for development programmes in the zilla panchayat and taluk panchayats.
ZP member Thungappa Bangera said the state government should implement the recommendations of the commission. Kerala model should be followed while releasing grant-in-aid for the panchayat raj institutions. In addition, the honorarium for the zilla panchayat, talu panchayat and gram panchayat members and presidents should be hiked.
ZP member M S Mohammed exhorted Chinnaswamy to bring the woes to the notice of the government and impress upon the authorities towards increasing the annual grants to address the problems faced. At least each member should be given a grant of Rs 50 lakh to take up development activities in his/her constituency. The fund that was released to Dakshina Kannada zilla panchayat for drinking water this year has been used for spill over works, leaving no fund to take up new initiatives this year.
On the impending water crisis in the district, member Dharanendra Kumar said there is a need to implement Paschima Vahini project, thereby increasing the ground water table in the district. The commission should recommend the government to release additional grant for road repairs and drinking water projects to Dakshina Kannada district. In addition, measures should be taken to generate income through taxes from the sale of arecanuts by the merchants.
Mamatha Gatty asked what development one can expect with a meagre of Rs 9.5 lakh per constituency. There is no fund with the zilla panchayat to take up work on maintenance of roads and school buildings. The grant released to the district under MGNREGS is meagre inspite of making progress this year.
Janardhan Gowda said the royalty collected for sand mining and quarry should be given to the local gram panchayts, so that the resources will be mobilised at the gram panchayt-level.
On the other hand, member Sucharitha Shetty said Karnataka Panchayat Raj (second amendment) Act 2015 has given additional powers to the zilla panchayat and gram panchayat presidents. In reality, it is the MLAs who decide on the roads and sinking of borewells.
Mangaluru taluk panchayat president Mohammed Monu urged the commission either to scrap the taluk panchayat system or increase the honorarium and grant-in- aid. Mangaluru taluk panchayat with 39 members, gets a grant of Rs 1 crore. What works can be taken up? he asked.
Earlier, commission chairman C G Chinnaswamy said the commission will review financial positions of the zilla panchayats, taluk panchayats, gram pranchayats and other local bodies and make recommendations to the government on their taxes, duties. "This also constitutes the grant-in-aid to the elected bodies from the consolidated fund of the state. The commission will also recommend measures to improve the financial position of these bodies and suggest on the manner in which the resources available to the local bodies could best be used."
The commission has also decided to give emphasis on performance grant for the local bodies. Those Panchayat Raj institutions that excell will get good amount of performance grant. He felt there is a surge in the number of youths migrating towards urban areas. This calls for creating of basic infrastructure facilities at rural level, focusing on the improving of existing facilities. The suggestions of local elected representatives will be included in the report, he added.
Meet with ULBs
Later, in a meeting with representatives of ULBs, the Finance Commission chairman urged the ULBs to mobilise their resources. The disciplined tax collection will help in generating income. Even the funds released by the state government should be utilised effectively.