Fund crunch hits Cong govt’s Grama Vikasa scheme

Siddaramaiah, during his tenure as chief minister, had announced the Grama Vikasa scheme in his 2014-15 budget to develop five villages in every Assembly constituency for a period of three years. DH File Photo

The H D Kumaraswamy administration has drastically cut fund release to the Grama Vikasa scheme which was launched by the previous Siddaramaiah government for comprehensive development of villages. 

The scheme has seen a 60% rollback in funds this fiscal because of which development works in 990 villages across the state have been hit. Also, there is uncertainty on whether the scheme will continue going forward.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah was chief minister when he first announced the Grama Vikasa scheme in his 2014-15 budget to develop five villages in every Assembly constituency for a period of three years. In 2017-18, the scheme was aligned with the chief minister’s 21-point programme to comprehensively develop 1,000 villages at a cost of Rs one crore each in two years.

According to official data, village works currently underway this year need Rs 566 crore against which the government has released only Rs 232 crore - that’s 40% of the requirement.

"We need another Rs 300-400 crore to complete payments for works," Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) minister Krishna Byre Gowda said.

"By the end of this year, we have to take up the next phase of villages. We had proposed this for the 2019-20 budget, but it wasn’t included. It’s an existing scheme, not a new one. We’re still pursuing with the Finance department," he said.

Gowda has pitched for a hike in the budget for every village from the present Rs one crore to Rs 1.5 or Rs 2 crore. "We said we will take up 600 villages in the next phase, but the Finance department has said they’d discuss it in the middle of the year, depending on the situation," Gowda said.

According to sources, there is some concern that fund releases may be hit this fiscal as the government has decided to clear in one go crop loans farmers have borrowed from commercial banks.

No new road projects will be taken up under the "Namma Grama, Namma Raste" scheme in view of the government announcing "Grameena Sumarga" project for the upkeep of the existing road infrastructure at a cost of Rs 7,182 crore, RDPR principal secretary L K Atheeq said.

"To build a new road, we spend about Rs 90 lakh per km. Under Grameena Sumarga, we’ll spend about Rs 30 lakh per km for restoring roads that are about 7-8 years old," he said.

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