Tuesday, January 3, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Dalit panchayat chief resigns over officials' incompetence



Dalit panchayat chief resigns over officials' incompetence
TNN | Jan 3, 2012, 05.53AM IST

MADURAI: The president of the reserved panchayat of Silukkuvarpatti in
Nilakottai panchayat union, Dindigul district, has resigned owing to
inaction on the part of officials, who he claims are not committed to
the welfare of the people and demand bribes for the smallest work.

A Ramachandran (62) said his panchayat comprised 11 villages, a
population of about 12,000 and 7,500 voters.

"When I first came to power in 2006, I decided that serving the people
in an unbiased manner would be my priority and was able to achieve my
goal to some extent," he said.

With the AIADMK coming to power in the state and being voted as the
panchayat president for the second time, Ramachandran says he had been
positive that the panchayat would develop faster under a proactive
leadership. But his dreams were short-lived. He says the chief
minister was dedicated to the people, but not her officers.

One major problem that his panchayat faced was drinking water.

"We have two comprehensive water schemes that do not deliver. One
solution is to implement the Pulvetti tank scheme, but the district
administration has been non-committal about the Rs 468 crore
estimate," he said.

Moreover, Ramachandran says the tahsildar and revenue officials were
demanding bribes to get even the smallest work done and that it was
not easy to even get an old age or widow pension for his people. The
electricity board is demanding money from farmers who got free power
connections during the previous government. About 80 people have been
affected, he adds.

Kavirayapuram in his village was inundated during the recent rains and
he had sought the BDO's approval and estimate to carry out repair
works on the roads using sand, but it was not given, Ramachandran
claims. "It is not that the panchayat coffers were empty. We managed
to save about Rs 4.5 lakh during the last term, but as the BDO's
estimate was delayed, I had to use my own funds to lay roads and faced
big problems in getting it reimbursed," he said.

In spite of repeated requests for funds for development, he says he
was not able to source any and hence he decided to step down as
president. "What is the use of being a people's representative if I am
unable to serve my people. So I tendered my resignation," he said.

As it is a reserved panchayat, his resignation was not accepted
immediately, and a meeting of officials including the PA (elections)
to the collector, BDO and panchayat members was held. Ramachandran too
was extended an invitation, but he did not attend it. The collector
accepted Ramachandran's resignation based on the outcome of the
meeting and vice-president Santhakumar was given additional charge on
January 1.

P Velmurugan, a labourer, said Ramachandran was the most
people-friendly president and that the villagers including women
wanted to stage a demonstration against his resignation, but the
president himself asked us to be non-violent.

"We urged him not to resign but he did so in the interest of people
like me. We will definitely vote him back to power in the byelection
that will be held in six months," said Muthiah, a villager.

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