People`s representatives fighting different battle

The ZP members demanded that the works be allotted "out of turn" without following the guidelines issued by the state Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Department.

Hyderabad: People`s representatives in Telangana are fighting a different battle these days.

Not for a separate state, but, for a share in the pie called Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF).

The battles are literally being played out in the open as the so-called people`s representatives, cutting across party lines, are squabbling for their share in the pie.

The elected representatives, who did not conduct the Zilla Parishad meetings as stipulated in the last 18 months in the name of the statehood agitation, have been showing undue urgency in completing the formalities now as more than Rs 300
crore worth works are said to be at stake.

The BRGF works apart, the link road works under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme amounting to another Rs 350 crore in Telangana districts, are also to be taken up this year, official sources say.

With just a month to go for their five-year tenure to end, panchayat raj functionaries right from mandal parishad territorial constituency members to the zilla parishad chairman are brazenly fighting it out to get as many works
sanctioned so as to get a "fair share" of the spoils.

The Zilla Parishad general body meeting in Medak turned into a public battle ground last week as the members in full glare of five MLAs, district Collector, officials and media fought with each other over the allocation of works under BRGF and "our share" in them.

The ZP members demanded that the works be allotted "out of turn" without following the guidelines issued by the state Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Department.

"It was as open as `neekentha` (your share) and `naakentha` (my share). They were so shameless that they had no hesitation in openly shouting for their share at the ZP meeting," a senior official pointed out.

Of the MLAs present, Congress legislator from Dubbaka, Cheruku Mutyam Reddy, strongly objected to the members` demand and wanted the guidelines to be followed clearly. But his lone voice protest was lost in the din.

The scene was no different in Warangal district the hotbed of pro-Telangana agitation.

The ZP members here went a step further and took their case to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy through the district minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah.

"Their plea was that all works be sanctioned in one go and the entire amount be appropriated among the ZP members.

The Chief Minister, however, did not give any specific assurance," a CMO official said.

In Khammam district, it came to light that most of the works taken up under BRGF last year were not completed though records suggest that the sanctioned money was "spent" but the ZP members insist that this year`s works be sanctioned

In one north Telangana district, the Zilla Parishad authorities reportedly gave in to the demands of the members and accorded `administrative sanction` for BRGF works in one go.

Following such instances, the Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Department issued a circular to all district Collectors directing them to scrupulously adhere to the guidelines in sanction of BRGF works, official sources said.

The district Collectors have also been asked sanction only one-fourth of the works at present so as to avoid large-scale misappropriation of funds, the sources added.