Just before elections, govt unearths Rs 406 crore unused LAD funds

New scheme announced to use money lying in DCs' accounts

Just before elections, govt unearths Rs 406 crore unused LAD funds

With Assembly elections around the corner, the state government has unearthed unutilised Local Area Development (LAD) funds amounting to Rs 406 crore in the accounts of deputy commissioners.

To use these funds, the Planning, Programme Monitoring and Statistics department on Thursday announced a new scheme - Sidda Sarkarada Nade Sevegala Kade. Under this, the unused funds will be spent on construction of classrooms, to provide basic infrastructure at government hospitals and build anganwadis.

"These are Karnataka Legislators' Local Area Development Scheme funds from 2002 to 2013 that were unused and lying in the accounts of deputy commissioners," Minister for Planning M R Seetharam said. It was for the first time such a huge amount of unused LAD funds have been discovered, Seetharam stressed. "Legislators no longer have control on these funds since they have lapsed."

Of the Rs 406 crore, the Education department has been given Rs 243 crore for construction or repair of 2,719 classrooms in government schools; Rs 122 crore for the Health department to provide basic infrastructure at 309 government hospitals; Rs 40 crore to the Women & Child development department to construct 346 anganwadis.

"Our department will monitor the use of these funds. Deputy commissioners have been directed to ensure that the funds are used before the end of this financial year," he said.

According to the minister, officials have been asked to finish works 90 days from the date of contract (tender). "We have asked officials to submit progress reports once in 15 days," he said.

The highest unspent amount was found in Uttara Kannada district (Rs 35 crore), whereas Gadag had the lowest unspent money (Rs 3 crore). "Not a single legislator has utilised 100% LAD funds," Seetharam said.

From 2013 till September 2017, a total of Rs 1,000 crore released under the LAD scheme remain unspent. Another Rs 300 crore are yet to be released, Seetharam explained.

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