Dimapur, January 13: The State Rural Development Department has landed in a soup with various reports indicating that it had given false information on release of grant-in-aid (GIA) to three districts of Dimapur, Peren and Mon.
According to reports, two top RD officials had claimed that GIA funds were released to the three districts before last Christmas, but latest reports show otherwise. The two officials reportedly made the “misleading” claims in response to questions raised by Leader of Opposition, TR Zeliang on delay in release of GIA to VDBs.
The Nagaland State Village Development Board Secretary Association (NSVDBSA) has also waded into the controversy by stating that funds for three districts – Dimapur, Peren and Mon have been released and kept in the account of the respective Deputy Commissioners, who is the chairman of VDB. The association, however, failed to mention when the funds were released to the three districts.
According to report in a local daily, DC Peren confirmed that the districts received the grant-in-aid on January 9, 2019. Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) also said it had confirmed from the outgoing DC Dimapur that the district received the fund in batches and not in a single demand draft on January 10, 2019. In regard to Mon District, the NPF was of the view that the fund could have been released to some of the blocks after January 5.
The date January 5 is important because it was the day that the Leader of Opposition, TR Zeliang at a press conference questioned the State Government over the delay in release of GIA to VDBs even after the High Level Committee (HLC) had approved Rs 96 crore out of Rs 185.05 crores for the years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2018-19.
“The apple of discord, in the very first place, was the delay in release of Grant-in-Aid and the subsequent claim of RD Department that it was released in the month of December 2018,” said the NPF in a communiqué issued on Sunday.
The NPF said the Leader of Opposition had raised the issue on 5th January 2019 after reports of non-receipt of the fund was authenticated from the Deputy Commissioners who also are the VDB Chairman of their respective Districts – Dimapur, Peren and Mon.
Reacting to the NSVDBSA statement, the NPF said, “As reported by one of the local dailies, Deputy Commissioner of Peren District had confirmed the receipt of the Fund only on 9th January 2019 and not in the month of December 2018 as claimed by the Department officials. Now it would behoove the Association to clearly state the facts for general comprehension rather than giving piece-meal press release which would only aggravate the issue and further confuse the public.”
The NPF said the “gutsy clarification and rebuttal” by the RD Department to the statement of the Leader of Opposition regarding the backlog years only corroborates its apprehension of the hand of RD officials along with the Minister in-charge in changing the High Level Committee’s allocation.
The NPF said, “When the statement of the Leader of NPF Legislature Party is based on the records of the High Level Committee, where the years are plainly written, how can the Nodal Department who is responsible for feeding the data to the HLC contradict the years in question? This contradictory statement of the Department gives rise to a pertinent question of whether the Department had given false data to the High Level committee.”
NPF MLAs from different districts of the State had earlier also questioned the RD Department on delay in release of the GIA funds.
It is now incumbent on the State RD Department to come clean on the issue and put to rest the controversy by stating when the GIA funds were release to the three districts. (Page News Service)