Panchayats reel under fund crunch
ADILABAD: Gram Panchayats (GPs) across the state are a worried lot over a shortage of funds and are exploring alternative sources of revenue to meet monthly expenses.
Sarpanchs say that they were neither receiving direct funds under the 15th Finance Commission nor general funds from the state government, due to which they were unable to pay staff salaries or pay instalments of bank loans taken for purchasing tractors and garbage trolleys.
Many sarpanchs had poured in their savings for developmental works, but were not reimbursed. A few GPs said that the shortage of funds was so severe that they were unable to pay road tax for tractors.
Among the GPs to have been pulled up by banks, with notices or memos over delay in paying instalments over the past three months, are Gannora, Machkal, Edbid Thanda, Venkatapur, and Ruvvi in the Nirmal district.
Secretaries of GPs say that they are the worst hit as their personal CIBIL (credit) scores are affected due to delays in paying instalments, which is affecting their personal lives, as well as their families.
They said that they have had to attach copies of their Aadhaar and PAN cards, among other documents, to procure loans.
With the funds crunch biting hard, a few GPs have resorted to increasing revenue by giving permission for sand excavation and increasing the number of belt shops (liquor boutiques).
GPs said that they are also collecting empty liquor bottles and selling them to generate revenue, as liquor consumption has increased in villages, either due to prevailing trends or an increase in the number of belt shops.
The Kautala GP earned â‚¹5,000 a few days ago by selling thousands of empty beer and liquor bottles collected by sanitary workers in the Komaram Bheem Asifabad district.
Sarpanch of the Kautala GP, Vojjela Mounish, said the empty bottles were collected by sanitary workers and stored in the dumping yard over a period of time. He said that people leave behind empty bottles after boozing in the open places on the village outskirts.
However, he did raise concerns about increasing liquor consumption among the youth.
In this context, it may be noted that the revenue of the state excise department increased from â‚¹10,000 crore to â‚¹35,000 crore over the past nine years, with authorities turning a blind eye to belt shops in villages.