February 8, 2023

Shaharbeen News Service Kashmir (SNS KASHMIR)

Reporting Facts That Matter The Most (www.snskashmir.com)

Representatives of PRIs stage protest against freezing of funds under 14 FC in Baramulla

4 min read

Demand rollback of ‘authoritarian order’ interest of smooth development    

Reyaz Rashid

Baramulla: Scores of elected representatives of Panchayat Raj Institution (PRI) including DDC, BDCs, Sarpanchs and Panchs of Baramulla district stages strong protest against the Jammu and Kashmir administration for its decision to freeze funds for further utilization that were already available with the Panchayats under 14th Finance Commission.

Protestors including elderly PRI representatives assembled in Sangrama Baramulla  to stage protest demonstration against the Commissioner/secretary Rural Development condemned the officer for her dictatorial approach and undermining the PRIs in Jammu and Kashmir.

DDC Member Sangrama Advocate Irfan Hafiz  said that an order has been issued by the office of Commissioner/Secretary Rural Development wherein all the BDOs have been asked to freeze the funds available with the Panchayats under 14th Finance Commissionand submit amount surrender statement by January 22.

“Earlier the union government had issued an order wherein the deadline for utilization of these funds (under 14th FC) was fixed till March 31, 2023 and all the PRI members and the officers of the Rural development department were working accordingly, but out of blue, government order No. 21-JK(RD & PR) of 2023 dated 16/01/2023 has been issued without any application of mind or taking any brief and inputs from the PRI members, Block Development Officers or district level officers(ACDs) of the Rural development department,” he informed.

“How did the government issue such an order asking to surrender the amount to the central account as we have three months left for the utilization of funds,” protestors  said.

“We had utilized 80% of funds till now. Rs 47 crores were to be utilized for sanitation, solar lights, transformers, etc”, they said.They urged the government to revoke the order at the earliest “for the welfare of the people”.

An order copy in possession of Kashmir Images reads, “Sanction is hereby accorded to the freezing of funds for its further utilization out of accounts of Halqa Panchayats Block Offices & District Panchayat Offices excepting for ongoing Works under 14 Finance Commission Award with immediate effect. Consequent upon above, the available balance along with interest amount accrued thereupon lying in the bank accounts of Halqa Panchayats/ Block Officer & District Panchayat Offices be Immediately surrendered and transferred to the Central Account of 14h FCA viz, 0110040500000087, J&K Bank, Branch Moving Secretariat Jammu/ Srinagar.”

“Every Block Development Officer to ensure that Panchayat wise surrender statement, duly signed by concerned Panchayat Accounts Assistants and countersigned by Panchayat Secretaries is submitted to the office of Assistant Commissioner Panchayats (ACP) by 22nd January 2023”, it reads.

The order further said that it is directed the deputy commissioners to ensure time-bound compliance of the order and submit a certificate by January 31 so that no funds are left with panchayats on account of the 14th FC funds after the execution of the ongoing works and all remaining funds have been surrendered to the Central Account.

The protestors added that entire process of procurement, the e-tendering process took so much time and now when the time has come for execution of developmental work, this order for freezing of amount under 14th FC within 6 days has come as a big shock for the elected Panches and Sarpanches as they are accountable to the people unlike the bureaucrats sitting in their cozy chambers of civil secretariat.

Protestors threatened to intensify the protest if such an authoritarian order is not rescinded back by the government at an earliest.

An elderly Sapranch Fata Begum of Amargah Sopore said, the PRI members like her laid down their lives for strengthening democracy in J&K and bridging the gap between the people and government but the officers instead recognizing the sincere efforts of the PRI members are hell bent to make them laughing stock in the eyes of the citizens.

The protesting Panches and Sarpanches demanded that the deadline for utilization of these funds be relaxed till 31/March/2023 as earlier stated by the union government and the Gram Sabhas be delegated powers to utilize these funds and to allot work to the local educated youth because otherwise all the time would be lost in completing formalities of inviting e-tenders, fixing eligibility criteria of contractors and finalizing the rates etc.

The protestors demanded roll back of the order and appealed LG administration for intervention to provide smooth funding for developmental works. 

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