…operations heavily stymied by withheld funds – ChairmanThe Tuschen-Uitvlugt Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) has called out Government for statements made during an outreach on Wednesday, which suggested that the local organ was responsible for all shortcomings within the communities.Speaking with Guyana Times on Saturday, Chairman of the Council, Vishal Ambedkar expressed his dissatisfaction with some of the assertions that were made by Government officials.Tuschen-Uitvlugt NDC Chairman Vishal AmbedkarAt the outreach at the Meten-Meer-Zorg Community Centre, the NDC was blamed for not cleaning the school compounds among other things. However, Ambedkar pointed out that the maintenance of schools are budgeted in the Regional Democratic Council’s funds.“I want to make it unequivocally clear that maintenance of schools and their compounds are budgeted for in the national and regional budgets by the Ministry of Education and, in the case of Region Three, the RDC. As a matter of fact, it is the regional administration that has the slasher which is to be used for maintaining schools and community grounds,” he informed.The Chairman further went on to say that the Communities Ministry reduced the Community Infrastructure Improvement Project (CIIP) workers assigned to the Council, from a total of 16 to just six. Payments to ensure these activities were carried out were also stifled.“Before this Government came to power, the NDC had 16 CIIP workers cleaning and clearing drainage paid for by the Ministry of Communities. That number has been reduced to six and the disbursements to pay them have been stifled by the Ministry”.He related that while they were elected to serve the communities, their operations are stymied by lack of funds from Government’s end. The $1M grant to maintain recreational compounds and facilities was rescinded and despite numerous calls, there has been no response.Ambedkar told this publication, “Community centre grounds no longer receive a grant of $1M to improve their recreational facilities from the Ministry of Sports in collaboration with the NDCs. Funding which they depended on. The NDC has written the Ministry of Communities many times for assistance with the improvement of grounds but nothing has materialised”.He added, “The Regional Executive officer is aware of the issues facing the residents of Tuschen-Uitvlugt and of engagements between the RDC and the NDC but letters sent to the REO’s office requesting assistance has proven to be a complete waste of time since no actions are taken on the many issues discussed”.He insisted that they are many plaguing issues in the communities which have not been addressed.“The residents particularly Zeelugt New Housing Scheme, observed that roads leading up to the Nursery School were graded days before the Minister stopped by for what was called community outreach. The residents are not fooled. They recognise political pageantry. I am not going to talk about low and no water pressure, blackout, crime rates, or this, or that, or the rest”.
If waters from the Almatti dam in north Karnataka had been released on time, people of Kolhapur and Sangli would not have had to endure the the devastating floods, said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar on Wednesday, while stressing that a permanent solution to the problem must be found through proper coordination with the neighbouring State.Mr. Pawar was on a tour of the worst-hit talukas in Kolhapur and Sangli district. “There is an urgent need for the Central government to hold talks with both States on this matter. There was no proper communication and coordination between the two governments this time,” he said, speaking in Kolhapur’s Shirol taluk.The NCP chief said the magnitude of the floods was unprecedented and that it was a mistake to take the water level of the 2005 floods as the ‘danger mark’. He urged the government to undertake a massive construction drive of building new and durable houses for the flood-affected population akin to the rehabilitation efforts post the 1993 Latur earthquake. “Thousands of homes and structures have been weakened by the floods, even at a higher altitude. With the onset of summer, these structures will crumble under the severe heat. So, new houses must be built by the State under Central government schemes,” Mr. Pawar said.He pushed for a complete overhauling of village infrastructure in terms of roads, water supply, electricity — all of which had been thrown awry by the deluge.Expressing concern for farm labourers, The NCP chief urged the government to ensure that they received work through employment guarantee schemes. He also reiterated on the need for a complete loan waiver, as the two districts are the most important sugar-producing regions in the State.“The factories will have to decide what to do with the destroyed sugarcane crop. They will also have to arrange to pay for seedlings as the farmers will have to plant a fresh crop,” he said.“We urge the State to grant a complete loan waiver for farmers for the present fiscal. We demand that a fresh crop loan be granted so that agriculturists can undertake cultivation in the affected areas,” he said, adding that the condition of the flood-affected people is taluks like Shirol was pitiable despite the large-scale relief efforts.Mr. Pawar said that as the deluge had hit everyone — from farmer to the small trader — loans must be waived off for all of them.He also rebuked the governement and administration for failing to fulfill its task of distributing flood aid. “A lot of aid is being sent by individuals, outfits, trusts, political parties from all over the State. But it appears that this help is not reaching the flood-affected people. In some instances, relief trucks were being stopped and the aid was being siphoned off,” Mr. Pawar said.Saying that the floods were not an occasion for playing politics, the NCP chief took potshots at the ministers and leaders of the BJP government, saying that it was deplorable that elected representatives of the government were holding ‘token 15-minute meetings’ in flood-hit areas.