Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday gave a piece of his mind to civil servants and told them they would be held responsible for delay in the delivery of various populist schemes of the government, including distribution of rice (30 kg) at Re.1 a kg from next month.
Delay in the implementation of schemes would not be tolerated, Mr. Siddaramaiah told officials while addressing a conference of Deputy Commissioners of districts, Chief Executive Officers of zilla panchayats and Principal Secretaries to various departments, here.
The conference was held for the first time after Mr. Siddaramaiah assumed office as Chief Minister. Several Cabinet Ministers attended the meeting.
Toning up administration
Mr. Siddaramaiah asked officials to desist from thinking that they were landlords and people their tenants. He asked the bureaucracy to put the administration back on track to dispel the general perception that it had collapsed in the State. “I want the bureaucracy to pull up their socks and put in place the administration. The general perception is that it has collapsed in the previous BJP rule. I want officials to make a drastic change in the administration in the next six months or else, strict action will be taken against them,” he cautioned top bureaucrats.
The electorate of the State blessed the Congress come to power on account of failures of the previous government. It was the responsibility of the government to respond to the grievances of the people. Officials must refrain from shifting responsibility to junior level officers.
The Chief Minister took exception to several departments not submitting utilisation certificates to the Centre over utilisation of funds allotted through central schemes. “Without utilisation certificates we cannot get additional Central grants,” the Chief Minister said.
He said the government was committed to correcting utilisation of Central funds in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) as the State had got a bad name due to large-scale irregularities in its utilisation under the scheme during the BJP rule.
Mr. Siddaramaiah instructed officials of the Agriculture Department to make arrangements to ensure timely delivery of seeds and fertilizers to farmers during the coming kharif season. Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath was present.
Mr. Siddaramaiah said people could sue the Deputy Commissioners and Chief Executive Officers for failure to provide job for 100 days in a year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, but the officers are lucky that they were not resorting to such an extreme step. He said that under the Act people had a right to demand jobs and if denied they could go to court.
On the acute water shortage and failure to provide jobs to them, especially during April and May, Mr. Siddaramaiah was angry that he told them: “Your reaction and silence to our queries shows that you have not done your duties”.
Taking them to task for delay in finalising the action plan from April to December on the part of the CEOs, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that naturally the quality of work would suffer. Asking them to visit neighbouring States where the job scheme had been implemented, Mr. Siddaramaiah advised the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Secretary, the CEOs and DCs to hold meetings and implement it.
Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil said that ground water in 5,500 villages had been contaminated and directed the officials to chalk out a plan to provide clean drinking water at one go pooling resources from the MNNREGA, 13th Finance Commission and Chief Minister’s special grant.
The Panchayat Raj Secretary informed the meeting that grama sabhas were not being held on a regular basis and suggested that all the programmes under various schemes and funds under them should be brought before the sabha for its approval.
The proceedings of the village panchayats/grama sabhas should be telecast for the information of the public, she added.
The Chief Minister also took to task the officials for not constructing even 58 lakh toilets out of the proposed 86 lakh toilets and expressed his anguish over double billing with regard to 19 lakh toilets.
Home Minister K.J. George, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra, Public Works Minister H.C. Mahadevappa and Minister of State for Medical Education Sharan Prakash Patil and others spoke.
Earlier, the Chief Minister garlanded the statue of the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the occasion of the 49th death anniversary.