At a time when Punjab is all set to elect its new panchayat bodies on June 3,a promise of cash reward to those villages,which elected its representatives unanimously during last elections,remains just that a promise.
Having failed to grant the Rs 3 lakh incentive that it had promised to villages,which did not go through the election process and chose their sarpanch and panchs unanimously,the state is not making any such offers this time.
Sources say the promise made during the 2008 elections was a one time thing and there is no policy of the government on the issue. Interestingly,Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Surjit Singh Rakhra who issued a self-congratulatory note Sunday saying that his village had set an example by electing its sarpanch and panchayat members unanimously,also remained silent on any monetary incentive.
The villagers say even if a monetary incentive was announced,it won;t make any difference. At least 2,806 villages that elected their panchayats unanimously in 2008,are still awaiting the promised grant of Rs 3 lakh each. The reward money totalling Rs 84.18 crore has not been released by the finance department,claims officials of the rural development and panchayat department.
We have been sending requisitions to the finance department for the past three years but the money has not been released, an official said.
The finance department officials,meanwhile,claim to have refused the grant saying the state is facing a financial crunch and the money promised was not a part of any policy decision.
They claim to have got another requisition from the rural development department recently and said it will be cleared soon.
However with the code of conduct implemented in the state it will still be months before the money reaches the villages.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court is also seized of the matter. On April 26,the court while taking up a petition filed by Congress leader and Kaputrthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh ordered that the grant be released to the villages within three months.
51,000 in fray This time more than 51,000 candidates are in the fray for election to the post of sarpanchs while more than 2 lakh candidates are contesting for the post of the panchs. Party symbols are not being used by the candidates in these polls.