Official apathy, local artistes bear the brunt

Official apathy, local artistes bear the brunt

Authorities yet to pay them Rs 2.40 lakh remuneration

Though Gaganachukki Jalapatotsava was celebrated in grandeur last year and the district administration basked in its glory, more than 200 local artistes were left in a lurch by the authorities.

Not a single one of them was paid. It has been a full year, and the district administration is all set to host the festival on September 6 and 7, this year.

When the issue was brought to the notice of the district administration recently, it woke up from slumber and submitted the statement of accounts to the government. But, the government has rejected the statement, owing to lack of transparency. Now the statement of accounts has been submitted for the second time.

As per the norms, tender process has to be followed for expenses that are going to be more than Rs one lakh. It has been alleged that Rs 20 lakh was spent for erecting dais and pendal last year, without inviting tenders.

 This was objected by the Finance department, which stalled the remainder of the funds. The departments of Kannada and Culture and Tourism had released Rs 25 lakh and Rs 20 lakh,  respectively.  Nimishamba temple trust had donated Rs five lakh, while private organisations had pitched in Rs 3.40 lakh, bringing the total to Rs 48.40 lakh.

Out of this, Rs 48.03 lakh was spent -- Rs 20 lakh for dais, and Rs four lakh for Sound and Light show. 

While payment was done for the artistes who had come from Bangalore and other places, local artistes (21 local troupes) were neglected and are yet to be paid the remuneration of Rs 2.40 lakh.

Assistant Commissioner Arul Kumar said the issue had come to his notice, and a letter had been dispatched to the government in this regard.

Kannada and Culture Assistant Director K N Annegowda said that improper planning of the district administration was the reason for the pending dues of the artistes.

However, the artistes fear that if they stage a protest against the authorities they will be denied participation in future programmes, organised by the government.

The then MP Ramya, who participated in the fest had assured that she would bear food expenses during the fest, and had even announced it. She however failed to keep her word, and the State government had to foot the bill.