The State government is all set to host a lavish all-India folklore fest by diverting funds meant for development of the economically backward Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
The government has directed local bodies in Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur and Koppal districts to divert their funds to the Sammelana to be organised by the Karnataka Janapada Academy in the third week of April in Bidar.
Gram Panchayats have been directed to donate Rs 10,000 each, TPs Rs 15,000 each and Rs 50,000 each is the target set for ZPs.
The five districts account for 814 GPs and thus the contribution from them totals Rs 81.40 lakh, while those from 24 TPs and five ZPs amount to Rs 3.50 lakh and Rs 2.50 lakh, respectively. In addition, the State government has released Rs 25 lakh, and the Karnataka Border Areas Development Authority has promised Rs 10 lakh. Besides, high school teachers in the five districts have been forced to pay Rs 200 each.
The State government’s order has incurred the wrath of the elected representatives and litterateurs and people of the region. Vijaykumar Sonare, member of Davargaon Gram Panchayat, said: “When the panchayats are starved of funds to supply drinking water, from where should they get money for such celebration?
“It’s unfair to cut the grants to panchayats when villages here are reeling under acute water scarcity. We oppose the move,” he said. Member of Legislative Council Kazi Arshad Ali said the government would be setting a bad precedent by seeking funds from the panchayats for such ‘melas’.
“Instead of diverting funds from the local bodies, the State government can directly sponsor such conferences,” he said, terming the move as a “curse for the economically backward region”. Writer Shivaraj Kadode said the government had displayed its lack of regard for the three-tier panchayat raj institutions and was anti-development.