The funds released by the TRS government accounted for mere 4% to 14% of the total funds released to the gram panchayats in the last four years.

The major share of funding for the gram panchayats came from the Union Government – from 86 – 96% – in the last four years while the release of funds from the State government was negligible. For instance, in 2014-15, Government of India (GoI) funds to the gram panchayats were in the tune of Rs. 697 crore while the grant from the State was Rs. 31.53 crore. Of the total of Rs. 728.73 crore released to the panchayats during that year, GoI accounted for 96% of funds and State – 4%.

The story was no different in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 with the State government releasing merely Rs. 79.09 crore, Rs. 147.19 crore and Rs. 75.53 crore respectively against Central disbursements of Rs. 660 crore, Rs. 908 crore and Rs. 928.47 crore respectively during the three years.

Releasing the information obtained through a query under the Right To Information Act, M. Padmanabha Reddy, secretary, Forum for Good Governance, said the funds released by the State government to gram panchayats were negligible. Instead of releasing required funds and devolution of power (out of 29 subjects, the State transferred only 10 subjects), the government increased the number of panchayats from 8,368 to 12,751, creating 4,383 new panchayats without any functions, funds and functionaries, he said.

The TRS government, like many other State governments ruled by the regional parties, blamed the Central government for not releasing funds. Thanks to 14th Central Finance Commission, 42% of Central funds were released to the States. But when it came to sharing the funds with the local bodies, the States only released a pittance, Mr. Reddy said.

The State constituted the first Telangana State Finance Commission (SFC) in 2015 but for three years, it did not appoint the chairperson and members. Only after the Forum for Good Governance filed a PIL in 2017, the chairperson and the members were appointed as per the orders of the High Court. It is the responsibility of the State Financial Commission to review the financial position of panchayats and to make recommendations, he said.

As per Article 243 of the Constitution, the SFC should distribute net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls and fee leviable by the State between the State and Panchayats and release the grant-in-aid to panchayats from the consolidated fund of the State and take measures to improve the financial position of panchayats. He also found fault with the government for amending the Panchayat Raj Act of 1994 and passing a new Act.

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