ZP members demand probe into illegality in watershed schemes

'Reconstitute ZP standing committee for social justice'

Monthly general body meeting of Kodagu Zilla Panchayat at Fort hall on Saturday, witnessed a situation where a ZP member played the recorded voice in his mobile phone in the meeting hall, thus bringing out an alleged misappropriation in watershed department, to the fore.

ZP member Bond Ganapathi alleged that misappropriation worth lakhs of rupees has taken place in implementing schemes under the watershed department and to support the same made the meeting participants to listen to the recorded statement. Voice in the phone recording revealed a daily wage labourer complaining that labourers who have dug pits under the watershed project, have not been paid labour charge of Rs 41 lakh.

Producing documents, Ganapathi said that the officers were paying only half the wage to the labourers who dug the pit while the remaining amount goes to their pockets. A fixed deposit of Rs 81,500 was deposited in the bank in 2008, to take up the work under the watershed scheme. The amount has now reached Rs 3.85 lakh. But there are no records available on the same amount. The beneficiaries of western ghats development scheme have also been selected as the beneficiaries under special unit scheme. How has this happened? Why not the cheques issued to the daily wage labourers were not crossed? he asked.

He also alleged that a total amount of Rs 1.62 lakh was collected from the farmers under the scheme, but there is only Rs 62,000 in the bank account. An investigation has to be carried out to trace the remaining amount, Ganapathi demanded.

All the ZP member supported his views, and unanimously demanded for a probe into the issue and suspend the officer who has committed the offence. As they did not budge to the attempts of District Watershed Department Officer Thirumalesh to give clarifications, ZP President B Shivappa said that there seems to be misappropriation at the outset. The decision on suspending the officers involved in the scam should be taken up in a meeting of the agriculture standing committee, he ordered.

Member Indiramma brought the issue of crores of rupees under 22.75 per cent the welfare of  SC and ST communities, which remain unutilised, to the notice of the meeting. She demanded that the grant released has to be utilised during the same year, without keeping it pending.

Several ZP members also demanded for reconstituting standing committee for social justice as the present committee members are not addressing the problems of the people. 

The members complained that there was no electricity connection for drinking water projects and contracts were given to ineligible contractors, for which ZP Assistant Executive Engineer Nayikoda replied that tenders were given to ineligible contractors based on the pressure from ZP members. The meeting also passed a resolution to hand over the inquiry of poor quality repair work of several primary health centres in the district, to vigilant squad. When member B B Bharathish demanded to tak action against those involved poor quality work, the ZP President said that the decision will be taken after discussing with the deputy commissioner.

Bharathish also complained about the inordinate delay in probing the illegality in Akshara Dasoha.

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