In a startling revelation, an audit conducted by the Panchayati Raj Department has brought to light widespread mismanagement of funds allocated for development projects in Himachal Pradesh’s Panchayats. The audit findings have prompted the issuance of a hefty recovery notice totalling Rs 12.5 crore against approximately 150 public representatives and officials implicated in the misuse of funds.

The audit, conducted across 13 development blocks in the state, uncovered irregularities amounting to a staggering Rs 1.83 crore. These discrepancies primarily pertain to funds earmarked for crucial development works under various Central and State Government schemes. The financial mismanagement spans across the responsibilities of Panchayat Pradhans, Ex-Pradhans, secretaries and technical officers, all of whom now face the prospect of recovery measures.

The Gram Nidhi, a crucial source of funds for village progress and development, has become a focal point of the audit, revealing a pattern of irregularities in the documentation of released funds. The mismanagement has led to a targeted recovery of about Rs 1.42 crore from public representatives and an additional Rs 41 lakh from officials found involved in the financial discrepancies.

Despite these revelations, the previous month’s recovery efforts were lackluster, with officials collecting a mere Rs 1,925, which was subsequently deposited into the village fund account. This raises questions about the efficacy of oversight mechanisms and the urgency for more stringent measures to prevent future financial mismanagement in Himachal Pradesh’s Panchayats.