Maharashtra govt gives Rs 258 crore to tribal panchayats, fails to train them on spending

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Kanchan Srivastava

 

On September 30, the tribal development department transferred over Rs258.5 crore (70% of the allocation for the 2015-16) to the accounts of 2,874 tribal village panchayats in 13 districts via the RTGS.

A classic example of how a wonderful scheme launched with good intentions can fall flat due to poor planning has been given by the state tribal development department.

After amending rules this April, Maharashtra became the first state in India to decide to directly transfer the tribal sub-plan (TSP) fund (which is 5% of the total tribal budget) to the gram panchayats in the scheduled areas. The rules were changed on the direction of governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who keenly follows tribal issues, while also having special powers to do so.

On September 30, the tribal development department transferred over Rs258.5 crore (70% of the allocation for the 2015-16) to the accounts of 2,874 tribal village panchayats in 13 districts via the RTGS.

However, a training session to sensitise the panchayat members about the guidelines of this scheme, utilisation of funds, budgeting, maintaining account book, which is liable to auditing, etc, is yet to be held. Reason: the department failed to print the training booklets on time.

The prime objective of the move was to empower the local self-government institutions and under-developed scheduled villages so that they could utilise the public funds as per their need and bring about speedy and effective development.

The lack of training almost means that the government has given the cash box to the tribals without keys.

The department has now extended the deadline for training to January 31, two months before the end of the financial year. The earlier deadline was November-end.

“As soon as we get the booklets, the training session will be organised,” said a senior government official from Palghar district. Over 412 villages of Palghar district have received a total sum of Rs29 crore under the TSP.

Under the scheme, tribal villages have got Rs10-80 lakh depending on their population. This can be spent on basic infrastructure, cleanliness, health, education and forestry-related works.

The tribal department has planned to roll out a set of 10 booklets for each trainee in the state covering various aspects of TSP funds, including basics of accounting, budgeting and bookkeeping. The modules are prepared by Pune institute Yashada as have the master trainers.

From each village panchayat, also called as PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act), five members are supposed to get training, including the sarpanch, gram sevak, one woman member and one forest rights committee member. Over 50 members of 10 gram panchayats are to be trained together in a three-day workshop.

Rajagopal Devara admitted to the delay but claimed that training in Nandurbar and Nanded has already started. “A few adarsh villages even started using the funds under this scheme, which is going to be a game-changer by next year,” claimed Devara.

“(The delay happened because) Yashada took time to frame the training module. Then printing the booklets in Nashik press also took time. We will wrap up the work by January-end.” He also insisted that the TSP funds can be utilised by March 2017 and, hence, villagers have enough time.

The tribal population in Maharashtra, as per the 2011 census, is 1.05 crore (9.35% of the total population of the state), the second-largest in the country, next only to Madhya Pradesh.

Of the 35 districts in the state, the TSP areas fall in 15 districts —Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Pune, Amravati, Yavatmal, Nagpur, Gondia, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and Nanded. There are 47 tribes or tribal groups in Maharashtra, including Bhils, Gonds, Mahadeo Kolis, Pawras, Thakurs and Warlis.

 

News and Picture Courtesy: DNA, Thursday, 31 December 2015

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