Badal assures inquiry into disbursement of development grants

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Chandigarh, Dec 18 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal assured the Vidhan Sabha that cases relating to the disbursement of development grants to panchayats without the consent of the elected representatives of Assembly constituencies would be inquired into.

The Chief Minister gave the assurance to Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon during the Question Hour, after the latter pointed out that grants in the Fatehgarh Sahib constituency represented by him were distributed to panchayats by the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Dera Baba Nanak without his consent.

The Speaker was of the opinion that grants to panchayats should be distributed to the panchayats by the elected representatives.

The Speaker had to intervene in the discussion as Capt Balbir Singh Bath (SAD) sought a reply from Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Ranjit Singh Brahmapura on the grants distributed to panchayats in the Sri Hargobindpur and Dera Baba Nanak blocks of Gurdaspur district from April onwards.

As the member referred to Dera Baba Nanak, which is in his constituency, the Speaker pointed out that on a number of occasions he had summoned the BDO of Dera Baba Nanak to seek information on the distribution of grants but the official had not met him to date.

Mr Bath also regretted that grants in his constituency (Sri Hargobindpur) were not being distributed with his consent by the officials concerened. Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal supported Mr Bath and said development grants should be distributed with the consent of the MLA of the area.

Mr Makhan Singh (Cong) alleged that some people under the banner of 'Halqa Incharge' were distributing grants in his constituency and also laying foundation stones for development projects.

Mr Brahmapura assured to assure the members that their demand would be considered and appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that grants were distributed through the elected representatives. The Minister also assured that anyone involved in the embezzlement of panchayat development funds would be dealt with strictly as per the law.

On the demand by Opposition members to constitute a sub committee to probe the cases registered against 'sarpanches' and 'panches' in the last couple of months, the Chief Minister while rejecting the demand said district level panchayat officials were competent enough to inquire into such cases.

''You cannot have a House committee to probe allegations against sarpanches,'' he retorted when certain Opposition members claimed that 'panches', who supported the Congress were being booked.

UNI

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