Laxity may cost State World Bank water aid

Bidar criticised for poor implementation

The State is in danger of losing US $50 million (Rs 260 crore), out of the US $150-million (Rs 780-crore) World Bank aid grant for the Jal Nirmal drinking water project, due to the non-release of payment, despite works being completed in Bidar district.

Officials failed to give convincing answers over the  progress of work at a meeting at the Bidar Zilla Panchayat (ZP) on Tuesday. The meetign was attended by Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa and World Bank (WB) officials.

Eshwarappa said the that WB officials had taken the non-payment of dues as evidence of poor performance and slow execution of works. He was quick to explain that the case of Bidar is unique in the entire State, where huge payments were due, despite the funds being released.

“The WB officials had threatened to withhold $50 million over Bidar’s poor performance,” he said and added that such statements not only hurts the prospects of one district, but the reputation of the entire State was at stake

“Therefore, Deputy Commissioner P C Jaffar and the ZP CEO must take speedy action in this regard,” Eshwarappa said.

Jaffar contended that the zilla panchayat had passed a resolution that works executed under the Jal Nirmal project be subjected to a third-party inspection — after which payment would follow thereafter.

However, he made it clear that according to the Panchayat Raj Act, the zilla panchayat had no say over funds released directly to Gram Panchayat, as in the present case. Hence, the ZP resolution should be annulled.

Intervening, Eshwarappa said that the stand taken by the local body was a non-issue and told officials to hasten the payment process.

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