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After outcry, state offers Rs 3 crore each to Opposition MLAs

The turmoil over the allocation of special funds to the tune of Rs 2,303 crore to Congress and NCP legislators has finally ended with an assurance by the state government that Rs 3 crore will also be given to legislators from the Opposition parties.

According to the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Eknath Khadse, all political parties, including his party -- the BJP -- the Shiv Sena, MNS and other smaller party members will get Rs three crore each to undertake development works in their respective constituencies.

MiD DAY had first reported on the fund allocation in an article (‘State plays genie to its legislators, grants them Rs 2,303 cr,’ July 16). To end the stalemate that saw repeated adjournments of the Assembly yesterday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, while making a statement in the House, said equal distribution of funds would be made if it were noticed that specific areas have not received any funds.

CM, however, refuted allegations that funds were allotted on the basis of recommendations by Congress and NCP legislators. “In fact it was based on the requirements of the specific areas, to provide basic facilities such as roads and other amenities,’ he said.

“The decision was taken on the basis of the financial position of the state,” said Chavan, adding that the Opposition should support the spirited decision taken by the government. Before the CM’s statement, the Opposition members had earlier stalled proceedings of the house with the question hour having to be cancelled, as the members trooped towards the well of the house. Along with Khasde, BJP member Girish Bapat and MNS member Bala Nandgaonkar had put up a strong case demanding funds on behalf of the Opposition members.

Budgetary norms?
Even as the Congress-led Democratic Front government has pacified the disgruntled legislators in its fold and later Opposition members, it has clearly defied the constitutional norms of funds distribution, say some Mantralaya officials.

The budgetary norms prescribed in the Constitution say any proposal that needs financial support by the government should follow a procedure. In this case, the government approved huge funds without any proper homework, they say.

As per the rules in existence, the local office should initiate financial demands for projects. For instance, if a road in a particular area needs funds, the local PWD office should process the file for administrative approval and technical sanction. The file reaches the Mantralaya after approval by local, district, and regional level offices.

“The government and CM’s office in particular asked the local level offices to submit proposals within a day,” said Eknath Khadse, who served as the Finance and Planning Minister during the Shiv Sena-BJP rule in the state.

“It may be a record of sorts that the government accorded its administrative approval for 3,032 road projects on July 11 and approval for 585 road
projects in tribal areas on July 8, which raises several questions”, he said, adding “We can take the matter to court since it clearly violates the budgetary procedures prescribed in the Constitution.”  

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