Sarpanches to petition court for mercy deaths over unpaid govt bills

WARANGAL: Sarpanches across the state, unable to bear public insults and threats from moneylenders over pending loans taken to complete government-approved developmental works, are set to petition the Telangana High Court to grant them ‘Karunya Maranam (mercy deaths)’ over the government’s alleged failure to reimburse them.

They said they were pressurised by moneylenders, while officials were threatening to issue memos against them for not completing developmental works.

Binigi Karunakar, a BJP sarpanch of Rangapur village, told Deccan Chronicle that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao ordered officials to provide water to the village under Mission Bhagiratha. But, contractors left the work midway due to unpaid bills, following which Karunakar spent Rs 15 lakh to get the works completed, but is yet to be reimbursed by the government.

“Several other developmental works were also taken up in the village by investing more than Rs 40 lakh, but these were not completed as officials stopped sanctioning the bills. People are blaming sarpanches for works being stuck halfway. Unable to clear the debts and vexed with officials, urging them to sanction the bills, we have decided to file a petition in the High Court seeking permission for compassionate death (Karunya Maranam),” he said.

A sarpanch of the ruling TRS, requesting anonymity, told Deccan Chronicle that previously, the expenditure of gram panchayats was not much, even accounting for salaries to staff members.

“However, with the state government’s introduction of various schemes, such as Palle Prakruthi Vanam (urban forests), Haritha Haram (greenery plantation), and need for tractors and sanitation measures, the bills crossed Rs 1.5 lakh per month but the revenue of gram panchayats did not increase to cope with the expenses for maintenance,” the sarpanch said.

The sarpanch alleged that party leaders were threatening to evict them from the party ranks, when they questioned about the lack of funds sanction for three years. “In this scenario, how can a village sarpanch maintain gram panchayat and take up developmental works?” the TRS sarpanch said.

Further, every gram panchayat is facing a bill backlog of Rs 30 lakh to Rs 60 lakh, and so far, 11 sarpanches ended their lives as they were unable to bear the pressure and insults, the sarpanch alleged.

Neralla Mahendar Goud, the sarpanch of Chelpur village in Huzurabad constituency, said that officials had directed him to take up works of establishing dump yards, constructing burial grounds, laying soaking pits, pipelines and roads, assuring that they would sanction funds on producing bills for the same.

“Around Rs 60 lakh was spent for various works and we submitted the measurement book record two years ago. But, the officials are yet to sanction funds on receipt of the bills,” Goud said.

“It is impossible to survive facing a lot of insults from various sections of people. The government must sanction the bills immediately otherwise, the High Court should permit the sarpanches for compassionate death, which is the only way for us,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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