GUWAHATI, Dec 3 - Huge spending on the campaigns for the Panchayat polls is not a healthy sign and it may lead to corruption in implementation of the rural development schemes, observed former Additional Chief Secretary MGVK Bhanu. He also stressed the need for proper social audit to check corruption at the grass root level.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Bhanu, who had also served the state as Additional Chief Secretary of the Panchayat and Rural Development Department, admitted that corruption is a major problem in implementation of the rural development schemes where substantial amount of money is being pumped in for the development of the rural areas. He expressed apprehension that spending of huge amounts of money on campaigning for the Panchayat elections might increase corruption in the grass root level in the days to come.
Bhanu admitted that though substantial amount of money is being pumped into the State for rural development, over the years, Assam has not been able to spend the entire amount available and spending by different Panchayats of the State is always uneven, which needs to be looked into. There are Panchayats which spent crores of rupees but at the same time, some could not even spend lakhs, he pointed out. He said that there have been instances where contractors took job cards on rent and used excavators to carry out works in clear violation of the guidelines. In the process, the contractors made money and the job card holders also managed to get money without working on the ground.
The former bureaucrat admitted that there is a huge mismatch between the amount of money available for rural development and the infrastructure and qualified manpower available to carry out the schemes. Though some steps have been taken like amending the rules to fix qualification levels of the Panchayat levels and �gaon sabhas� have also been made, it remains to be seen whether such steps can improve the functioning of the Panchayats. Bhanu admitted that because of gender equality, Assam has a much better option of improving the functioning of the Panchayats than some other states of the country.
Commenting on other major drawbacks, Bhanu pointed out that in case of other major departments like the PWD, the schemes are prepared with technical support and contracts are awarded by floating tenders. There are some checks and balances but no such system exists in the Panchayats and though the Technical departments of the Government are supposed to give technical support to the schemes taken up by the Panchayats, it is rarely done. The Directorate of Social Audit is also not functioning properly and the people must become aware of the schemes and keep a close watch on the implementation of it to check the level of corruption in the implementation of the rural development schemes, he added.