The Central government has released ₹273 crore to rural local bodies in the State for taking up various prevention and mitigation measures needed to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The amount formed part of ₹8,923.8 crore released by the department of expenditure of the Union Finance Ministry for providing grants to rural local bodies. Uttar Pradesh (₹1,441.6 crore), Maharashtra (₹861.4 crore) and Bihar (₹741.8 crore) secured the lion’s share of the release while the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh got ₹387.8 crore.
The grant is meant for utilisation by all three tiers of the panchayat raj institutions at village, mandal and district levels in the State. The grant, released on the recommendation of the Panchayat Raj Ministry, constituted the first instalment of the united grants for the current financial year.
Though the 1st instalment of the untied grants was supposed to be released next month, according to the 15th Finance Commission recommendations, the grant had been released in advance of the normal schedule in view of the ongoing pandemic situation. The release of the grant would augment resources of the panchayats in fighting the contagion.
The Ministry said it had also relaxed certain conditions in the release of the grant amount keeping in view the prevailing situation. These conditions included online availability of the accounts of a certain percentage of rural local bodies in public domain. Taking into consideration the prevailing circumstances, the condition had been waived for the release of the first instalment of untied grants.