The Telegraph
Saturday , February 22 , 2014
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CM faces heat on funds release

Ranchi, Feb. 21: Chief minister Hemant Soren today came in the line of attack from Opposition legislators in the Assembly over the delay in release of MLA Local Area Development Fund for the 2013-14 fiscal.

Raising the issue during debates on the third supplementary budget, JVM MLA Nirbhay Kumar Shahabadi from Giridih said elected representatives were unable to utilise the funds because of the government’s negligence.

He added that the model code of conduct was to come into effect any time in view of the parliamentary elections. “The poll code will bar funds release and MLAs will not be able to recommend any projects in their constituencies,” he argued.

In his reply, Hemant said the model code would not stay for five years, which the Opposition termed as a “casual” remark.

Soon, the Opposition led by BJP MLA C.P. Singh and JVM MLA Pradeep Yadav launched a scathing attack on the chief minister.

Yadav accused Hemant of being insensitive towards the issues raised by the legislators. “He has no respect (for the sentiment of the MLAs),” he pointed out.

As the Opposition mounted assault on the chief minister, Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta and finance minister Rajendra Prasad Singh jumped into his rescue and tried to pacify the agitating MLAs.

“He actually meant to say that the election code would hardly stay for two months and is making all efforts to clear development funds fast,” Singh clarified.

The MLAs were not in a mood to budge. “In July last year, the chief minister had promised in the House that the funds would be cleared very soon. If there is any technical issue involved, it is the responsibility of the government.,” C.P. Singh demanded.

Under the MLA Local Area Development Fund, each legislator receives Rs 3 crore to initiate projects like roads, community buildings and health initiatives, in his or her constituency. The rural development department releases and monitors the growth funds for all the 82 MLAs, while the respective district commissioners are the custodians of the aid.

Sources in the department said the problem cropped up when the finance department, through a circular, blocked the funds release last year after various districts failed to furnish utility certificates of the money used earlier. The sources further revealed that the districts were yet o submit utility certificates of Rs 810 crore under the local area development funds from the past many years.