Commonwealth Forum to launch training prog. for Indian councillors

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Kochi, Oct 23 (UNI) In an initiative to strenghten local government bodies in Asia, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) will this week launch a pilot project in Mumbai to train the municipal councillors from four Indian sub-continent countries, Forum Secretary General Carl Wright said today.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Wright said the two-year programme, entitled 'Promotion of Local Democracy', will cover India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Discussions were on with Maldives also to include it in the initiative, he said.

The programme, for which the UN Democracy Fund will give USD 25,000, will train 100 municipal councillors from various Indian states in the pilot project, which will be launched on Friday, he said.

The training modules will be based on the Commonwealth's 'Aberdeen Principles' for strengthening local self government, which were approved by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in 2005, he said.

Dr H S Anand, Secretary, Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, said the central government had recently launched a 'community development network strategy' under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM) to strengthen community-level groups in slums.

The government was also revamping the 'Swarnajayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana' to set up micro-business centres to develop the local skills and capabilities of people to set up micro enterprises.

The micro-business centres will provide machines, designs, technology solutions and market access for the products made by the micro-enterprises, he said.

Provision of low cost sanitation facilities and an urban reforms charter, focusing on housing for urban poor, were the other initiatives of the central government to alleviate the living conditions of the urban poor, Dr Anand said.

Kochi Mayor Mercy Williams said the Kochi Corporation had received Rs 26 crore from the Centre under the JNURM so far. It was in the process of formulating projects for another Rs 200 crore under the scheme, she said.

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