Hyderabad: Despite the adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the State revenues and the delay in release of Central funds, the State government has been prompt in releasing Rs 339 crore every month to 12,769 gram panchayats in the State since October last as per the new Panchayat Raj Act. By the end of the third quarter on December 31, the total cumulative funds available in the accounts of gram panchayat amounted to Rs 1,593 crore.
The State government came up with the new Panchayat Raj Act which mandates release of allocated funds to gram panchayats every month. As per the Act, the State government has been releasing Rs 339 crore to gram panchayats which accounts for about Rs 1,017 crore from October to December. As a result, the panchayats already have Rs 1,593 crore including balance carried over from previous months. Nalgonda district, which has the highest number of 844 gram panchayats, has about Rs 62.91 crore available to take up developmental works while Medchal Malkajgiri district with only 61 gram panchayats, has Rs 14.81 crore balance funds available for expenditure towards rural development.
About 43,579 works have been taken up at a cost of Rs 887.15 crore across the State including 19,660 works taken up with 15th Finance Commission funds amounting to Rs 357.16 crore while another 13,744 works costing Rs 296.4 crore are being funded by State Finance Commission. The rural local bodies took up around 8,764 works with their own funds of Rs 131.64 crore. Majority of these works are either completed or nearing completion, even as the rural local bodies are gearing up to take up many other works.
With the available funds, the Panchayat Raj and Rural Development department is providing necessary support to the gram panchayats for taking up different works. The gram panchayats in the State have achieved cent per cent ODF free status through construction of toilets, apart from maintaining greenery and hygiene under Palle Pragathi programme. Several other works like construction of Vaikuntadhamams, laying of CC roads and development of dumpyards, among others, have also been taken up.
The Centre, however, citing the impact of the pandemic on its revenues, has been delaying release of funds pertaining to gram panchayats. Official sources said the release of funds were being delayed by at least two months which forced the State government to release necessary funds from its treasury and refill the same after the Centre releases its share of funds. While the funds sanctioned by the 15th Finance Commission were released in the second half of the financial year, the Centre is yet to release about Rs 1,719 crore under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for which Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Minister Errabelli Dayakar Rao recently wrote to the Centre seeking release of the amount pending from previous years.
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