Treat misuse of people's funds as anti-national actvity: Somnath

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New Delhi, Oct 18 (UNI) Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today expressed concern over reports of misuse of resources meant for the Panchayat institutions.

''It is a matter of great concern and should be treated as an anti-national activity,'' said Mr Chatterjee addressing the 17th National Conference of the All India Panchayat Parishad (AIPP) here.

''It is our duty as a nation to see that every paisa earmarked for our people mostly in rural areas is fully utilised for their benefit and for nothing else,'' he said, adding that increasingly, the world over, greater focus was being laid on practising and promoting people-centred governance as an expression of grassroot democratisation process.

''Only when citizens, particularly the most marginalised people begin to feel the positive impact of governance can we say that democracy, as a system of governance is relevant to the people at large. The Panchayati Raj system, which we have envisioned, is a noble endeavour in that direction,'' Mr Chatterjee added.

Observing that it was indeed a challenge to the Central and the State Governments to see that the objectives enshrined in the statutes were realized and the developmental aspirations of the people addressed in the most democratic and transparent way, the Speaker said it was important that there was total commitment, objectivity, a sense of devotion and, above all, a political will.

He also noted that a large number of women, the underprivileged and socially and economically backward people had come to occupy positions of power as a consequence of reservation provided to them in the Panchayats.

There have been many achievements across the Panchayati Raj Institutions in building confidence which has rekindled the hope of the local people as things are happening very near to them and also because they are part and parcel of the developmental process, he observed.

Mr Chatterjee said over the past five decades of its existence, the AIPP had made remarkable contributions to the country, and its focus on issues that concern the marginalised and the downtrodden and the women-folk merited special mention.

Observing that three-quarters of the population still continued to live in rural areas spread over six lakh villages, the Lok Sabha Speaker said in the years to come, the Panchayati Raj Institutions will have to play a major role in the development of the country.

''The Panchayats are the building blocks to development and prosperity of our people,'' he said.

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