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The matter came up for discussion during review of the progress of projects
Officials asked to submit report with details of funds received and expenditure incurred
Raichur: The district-level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee on Centrally sponsored rural development programmes, at its meeting here on Friday, decided to constitute a team of officials from the zilla panchayat to investigate alleged irregularities in the development of plantations and nurseries by the Department of Social Forestry.
The matter came up for discussion when A. Venkatesh Naik, MP and committee chairman, was reviewing the progress of projects taken up by the department during the previous and current years.Objections raised
Syed Yasin, Raichur MLA, raised objections to the reports submitted by the Department of Social Forestry.
He said that for a few years, the department had been receiving crores of rupees both from the Centre and the State for avenue plantations, farmland plantations, protection and maintenance of nurseries under the Special Component Plan (SCP) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). But the department had been irregular in implementing the programmes.
He said departmental records showed that it had taken up avenue plantations on hundreds of hectares and distributed saplings to thousands of farmers in his constituency.Verification
But on verification, he found that no such thing had been done. It was suspected that officials had maintained false official records on these projects, Mr. Yasin said.
When asked, the officials told the meeting that the department had gone in for avenue plantations and distributed saplings to identified farmers in all the five taluks last year as targeted.
But most of the saplings dried up owing to lack of maintenance. Farmers to whom the saplings were distributed were not interested in the maintenance of trees in their fields. The department could not maintain the plantations owing to staff shortage, they said.Lapse
Mr.Yasin told the meeting that the department was responsible for watering of plants for three years after implementing the avenue plantation programme. The department had failed to reach the target in avenue plantation and distribution of saplings to the farmers.
Mr. Yasin demanded a thorough investigation into the irregularities in the department.
Mr. Naik directed the zilla panchayat chief executive officer N.V. Prasad to order an investigation.
Mr. Prasad asked the officials concerned to submit a progress report with details of funds received and expenditure incurred in the last three years.
Mr. Naik observed that the officials had not achieved the target for afforestation in rural areas and employment under the NREGS.
Narasimhalu Masdoddi, Raichur Taluk Panchayat president, told the meeting that the department had failed to take up the afforestation programme last year.
It had not developed any nursery in the notified villages in Raichur taluk. But it showed an expenditure of Rs. 20 lakh for development of nurseries in Jambaldinni, Tuntapur and Singnodi villages in the taluk, he complained.Explanation
The officials concerned told the meeting that the department had implemented the afforestation and nursery programmes last year in the notified villages.
During the current financial year, it had taken up plantations on about 540 hectares and distributed 6.58 lakh saplings to farmers. But the plantations dried up because of lack of rains, the officials said.
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