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Tuesday 21, January 2020
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Missing model villages

Funds lapse under Haryana MLAs’ watch

Nearly five years down the line, Haryana’s report card on creating ‘adarsh’ villages is dotted by red marks. During his first tenure, in July 2015, CM Manohar Lal Khattar launched the Vidhayak Adarsh Gram Yojana (VAGY). It is an ambitious scheme wherein all MLAs are expected to adopt three villages each and monitor their progress. The initial goal was to develop them into model ones by the end of the term: September 2019. Depending on the population of the gram panchayat, time-bound funds up to Rs 2 crore were to be granted for projects identified by the MLA and cleared by the government department concerned. With rural progress driving the growth of a state, VAGY aimed at infrastructural development along with social justice as it entailed the participation of the villagers. In a safeguard against partisanship or corruption, the MLA was prohibited from adopting her own village or that of her spouse.

But the tepid response — attributed, in part, to the fact that the funding pattern is such that monetary assistance is provided only through the government department and not directly to the MLA — is indicative of the disregard of the legislators towards their promises to the electorate. As on February 23, 2018, against the release of Rs 49.05 crore, just Rs 13.02 crore was spent on development works in the adopted villages. In a downhill trend during the CM’s second term, only two of the 90 MLAs have since their election in October 2019 shown an interest in utilising the funds for the period ending March 2020. This raises another concern: given the slow pace of government functioning, the probability of shoddily done jobs cannot be ruled out — for these two MLAs as well as late-risers, if any.

That Haryana’s villages hold immense potential is well known from the many inspiring stories of sporting talent, women’s empowerment and agricultural growth that they have given birth to. It is indeed criminal that crores of rupees that could have been potentially spent on them for their uplift are lapsing because the MLAs are not prompt enough or not interested in utilising the amounts.

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