Fraudulent Practices by Panchayat Leaves Residents Homeless


Residents of the Hirebevennur village need to pay a high price in order to have a house constructed.

By Ajay Ramanathan

Bengaluru, Nov.23, 2018.

The residents of the Hirebevanur village, located in the Indi taluk of Karnataka’s Bijapur district, alleging that the village panchayat charges an unfairly high price for the construction of a house.
Furthermore, they report that the panchayat insists on the payment of this fee. “He charges Rs 30,000 for the construction of a house,” said Walekar, a farmer at the village.
“The panchayat does not conduct any activities properly”, Walekar remarked. “If somebody is unable to pay the requisite amount, that particular house is given to someone else”.
In fact, a significant number of people are currently homeless in the village. “There are approximately 15 people, who do not have a house. These people work as coolies who earn Rs 100-200 a day. They live out in the open as they do not have the means to pay for the houses”, he mentioned. This is contrary to the belief that these houses are constructed free of cost.
This is confirmed by NA Tehlsang’s declaration that the panchayat constructs houses for the residents. Tehlsang is a bill collector at the village panchayat in Hirebevanur. The Panchayat Extension Officer M.I Kerutagi echoes Tehlsang contention on the cost of construction of houses.
This prescribed cost places a burden on the residents of a village where farming is the primary occupation. “Most people here are engaged in farming”, said Tehlsang. Furthermore, he stated that the village had a population of 15,000 and the number of voters is 7000.
Explaining the role and accountability of the panchayats, TH Murthy, Director of the Centre for Rural and Development Studies said – “During the early 1990s, the 73rd constitutional amendment came into force and the Panchayati Raj system came into being. The Gram Panchayats have been given the function of facilitating basic amenities like water, health, and education. ”
“Despite these schemes and programs, Bombay Karnataka has been considered as ‘backward’ by the state and the center.” Murthy believes that the Panchayati Raj is not trained or qualified enough to address issues at a regional level. “The village Gram Panchayat must facilitate shelter and transport as well”, he said. However, Murthy did not shy away from assigning some of the blame on policy makers “Policymakers seek to address ‘pursued needs’ rather than ‘felt-needs’”, he remarked. “Rather than increasing dependency on panchayats, there must be an attempt to make these villages self-sufficient”, he suggested.