BHUBANESWAR: In view of the increasing workload at panchayat level, the State Government is seriously contemplating to post a panchayat development officer in each gram panchayat and an accounts officer at the block level.
The State Government has taken up the issue of appointing a panchayat development officer with the Central Government which has agreed to the proposal, Panchayati Raj Minister Maheswar Mohanty told the Assembly.
Replying to the discussions on supplementary demand of grants for the Panchayati Raj Department, the Minister said the need for creating the post of panchayat development officer (PDO) was felt as the expenditure of each panchayat was more than Rs 10 crore. The State has requested the Centre to sanction funds for the proposed PDOs and the proposal is under active consideration of the Centre, he added.
The Government is also considering creation of a post of accounts officer in each block for proper management of accounts. However, the recurring expenditure of the accounts officers will be borne by the State Government. If everything goes as per the plan, the PDO posts and accounts officers will be created in the next financial year, Mohanty said.
Admitting Opposition allegation that the work progress of the department was tardy and the expenditure so far is 53 per cent, the Minister said three reasons are responsible for this.
The Centre normally releases its share of assistance in April. But the first dose of assistance was released to the State in June precisely because of the CBI probe into financial irregularities in the MGNREGA programme.
“The CBI probe into MGNREGA was a deterrent in the timely implementation of various programmes. Government officials did not show the kind of enthusiasm they had shown in previous years,” the Minister said.
The floods in September and October have also delayed the execution of programmes of the department.
The Minister further admitted that shortage of staff at the field level is the other reason for the delay in expenditure of the budgetary allocation. While the actual requirement of junior engineers and gram panchayat technical officers was 4,081, the men in position are 2,300.
Asserting that the Government has taken timely action against the erring officials, the Minister said corruption is more where the elected representatives are not active.
Initiating the debate, Anup Sai of the Congress said corruption is rampant in the department and the Government protects the corrupt officials.
Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh alleged that the State Government was still not following the operational guidelines of MGNREGA.