With urban local body polls over, TN set to get funds for civic purposes

According to Finance department officials, ₹2029.22 crore was pending towards the performance grants for the years 2017-18 to 2019-20 and ₹4,345.57 crore towards basic grants for the year 2019-20

Normally, the grants are given if there are elected local bodies and this is on the basis of recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission

The completion of the urban local body polls will come as a huge relief for the Tamil Nadu government which will now get funds allocated towards civic purposes from the Centre and which had been pending for several years.

The polling for 21 municipal corporations, 138 municipalities and 489 town panchayats in Tamil Nadu was held on February 19, in which around 60% turnout of voters was recorded. The results will be announced on February 22.

The local body elections were last held in 2011. The polls in 2016 were not held due to issues with a delimitation exercise, and as a result, the AIADMK government’s finance minister O Panneerselvam who visited Delhi several times seeking funds from the Centre, would return with only a part of the funds.

Thousands of crores of rupees are said to be pending with the Centre, under the grants allocated for local bodies in Tamil Nadu.

According to finance department officials, ₹2,029.22 crore was pending towards the performance grants for the years 2017-18 to 2019-20 and ₹4,345.57 crore towards basic grants for the year 2019-20, under the 14th Finance Commission recommendations.

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“We have been requesting the Centre to release grants, but elections to the local bodies were not completed and unless the elections are completed, it is difficult to get funds. Now we are confident of getting the funds pending for urban local bodies,” said an official.

Since 2016, Tamil Nadu was able to get only a part of the grants despite not holding elections to the local bodies. In 2017, following pressure from the Union Finance ministry, the Centre sanctioned nearly ₹1,390 crore towards the basic grant for the local bodies.

Normally, the grants are given if there are elected local bodies and this is on the basis of recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.

The elections for local bodies were slated for October 2016, but they got postponed due to the Madras High Court’s intervention.

The then AIADMK government’s stand was that as the delimitation of reserved constituencies became a major subject of litigation last year, it would prefer to wait till the completion of the delimitation exercise, which is still under way.

Also read: Voting begins for TN urban civic polls amid tight security

Finally elections were held for rural local bodies in 2019, in which the DMK won more seats in rural areas compared to AIADMK. Soon after the DMK government took charge in May last year, elections to the rural local bodies were held in nine districts, which were divided from various present districts. Now, the elections to all urban local bodies have been held.

“The local bodies generally spend grants towards the operation and maintenance of water supply, streetlights and sanitation and payment of charges to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation or Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board,” said the official.

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