The opposition Congress today created an uproar in the Chhattisgarh Assembly accusing the BJP government in the state of weakening panchayati raj institutions. Soon after the Question Hour, Congress MLAs including Dhanendra Sahu, Satyanarayan Sharma and partys state chief Bhupesh Baghel, raised the issue of the state governments recent decision of using funds, allocated under the 14th Finance Commission for the Panchayat and Rural Development department, to implement a telecommunication scheme in the state. The House was adjourned twice amid ruckus by the Congress members. However, the ruling BJP had already announced that it was withdrawing this decision. Accusing the government of trying to finish PRIs, Congress members said that the government was pressurising panchayats to transfer 70 per cent of funds allocated under the 14thFinance Commission, for enhancing basic amenities and development within the panchayats, to the CEO CHiPS for Sanchar Kranti Yojna (SKY) scheme.
It alleged that the funds had even been transferred in several places. The Congress said that the move was done to give undue benefit to mobile companies, adding that the state government was providing Rs 600 crore to them to establish mobile towers. The Congress said that the panchayats, its sarpanch and secretaries were being pressurised to sign the consent letters and in some instances, the amount was transferred without the signature of and directive from account holders. The party said that this amounted to a serious offence. Congresss state chief Baghel described the step as "organized loot" and said, without the signature of the sarpanch and panchayat representatives, money had been transferred. Baghel questioned as to what would happen to the money that had already been transferred. While Congress members demanded a discussion, Chairperson Shivratan Sharma rejected their demand saying that the opposition would get ample time during discussions on the budget demand proposals. Amidst sloganeering by the Congress, the proceedings had to be adjourned two times. Despite the motion being rejected, Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Ajay Chandrakar replied to the allegations stating that the 14thFinance Commission allocations were made for providing basic amenities and development of villages and the state government had included mobile and internet connectivity under it. He, however, added that the state government had now decided to return the amount to the panchayats, adding that the transfer would be done in the next 15 days.
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