District administration will decide how to use funds
THE Centre has approved Rs 3,300 crore grants for infrastructural development in 60 Naxalite-affected districts of the country. The scheme Integrated Action Plan for Selected Tribal and Backward Districts was passed on November 26.
The scheme will be implemented over the next two years. A government press release said a block grant of Rs 25 crore will be given to each of the districts for the current fiscal year. This has to be utilised within remaining four months. The grant will be raised to Rs 30 crore for the next year.
There were proposals to introduce stringent measures in the scheme to ensure transfer of power to the panchayats. (see ‘Major battle over minor produce’, Down To Earth, November 1-15, 2010). But the approved proposal of the scheme suggests the district administration will handle the fund. A committee headed by the district collector, superintendent of police and a forest officer will decide on specific schemes aimed at development of concerned districts.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, former minister of Panchayati Raj, said the government is repeating the fault of putting money in bureaucratic hands. “If the government really wants to make the scheme effective, it should put the money in the hands of panchayats,” he said at a function in New Delhi on December 1.