Karnataka netas have Rs 939 crore unspent funds

Karnataka netas have Rs 939 crore unspent funds

While legislators complain about stunted development, a whopping Rs 939 crore allocated to them remains dormant, and more than half of this amount belongs to ‘neglected’ north Karnataka districts, according to data tabled by the government in the Legislative Assembly.

Under the Karnataka Legislature Local Area Development Scheme (KLLADS), the state government releases Rs 2 crore to each of the 224 members of the Legislative Assembly and 75 members of the Legislative Council. Elected representatives are free to spend the money in their constituencies to take up developmental works.

So far this year, the government has released Rs 292.44 crore under the scheme.

But a huge stash of LAD funds accumulated over the years remains unspent. Belagavi, where the winter session of legislature is currently under way, tops the list with Rs 142 crore lying in the personal deposit account of the district administration. Belagavi has 18 legislators.

Totally, Rs 486 crore of legislators’ development funds remains unspent across the 13 north Karnataka districts, which is 51% of the total unutilised amount.

“Invariably, a quarter of the LAD funds goes unspent due to various reasons,” said M R Seetharam, who was minister for planning, programme monitoring and statistics in the previous government. “In the last quarter of 2017-18, we couldn’t release LAD funds because the government did not have sufficient money due to the deficit caused by GST. This increased the dormancy of funds.”

The KLLADS started in 2001-02, with Rs 25 lakh for every legislator. The amount was increased to Rs 1 crore in 2006 and to Rs 2 crore in 2013.

BJP’s Sirsi MLA Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri blamed “administrative delays” for development funds to remain unspent.

“This is how it works: We’ve to send a list of works to the deputy commissioner. Getting this approved is a tardy process in itself. Then, there are delays at every level — from a junior engineer to a tahsildar — in the garb of inspection. It takes a lot of time for works to actually start, which gives us a bad name,” the former minister explained.

In December last, the government diverted Rs 406 crore unused LAD funds for construction of classrooms, to provide basic infrastructure at state-run hospitals and to build anganwadis. “The unspent funds can be used for a new government scheme or project,” Seetharam suggested.