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LS discusses Mid-term Appraisal report on Panchayats

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Dec 4: The task set out through the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution for the panchayats has not been implemented as yet, CPI (M)'s Basudeb Acharia said, adding that even after 24 years, devolution of powers for the Panchayat Raj institions was only being discussed.

Initiating a discussion under Rule 193 on the Report on the State of the Panchayats - A Mid-Term Appraisal 2006, he congratulated the government for bringing out the report, and for conducting seven Round Table Conferences to study the problems and difficulties of Panchayats.

Mr Acharia said that under the UPA government, it was for the first time that a separate Panchayati Raj Ministry had been created to cater to the developmental needs of the rural population. This was consistent with the promise made in the Common Minimum Programme, he added. Noting that more than 70 per cent people were living in rural areas, he said there was a wide gap in the economic condition of people living in urban and rural areas .

''India is shining only for 10 per cent of the population. Hence 20 people living in one place can not decide the fate of the fate of lakhs of people living in rural areas,'' he said.

The Mid Term Review and Appraisal 2006, laid on the table of the House on November 23, contained the experience of the people during two and a half years in Panchayati Raj.

Mr Acharia stressed the need for devolution of power to panchayts and for activity-mapping by them to make them an effective instrument of self-government.

''Without that the real 'swaraj' that Mahatma Gandhi talked about cannot be achieved,'' he noted.

The CPI-M leader regretted that land reforms had not been implemented in all but only two to three states. ''When these will be implemented, there will be a change in the rural economy,'' he said.

Mr Manvendra Singh (Congress) said the enactment of programmes like the National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme and Backward Region Grant Fund would help strengthen the 'Gram Panchayats'. He was of the view that rural transformation will involve development of sustainable agriculture along with major investments in social sectors like primary education and health.

Mr Shailendra Kumar (SP) called for large scale participation by youth to make the Panchayati Raj programmes a success.

He said the representatives to these Institutions are generally from among the poor and because of this, the bureacracy does not pay heed to them.

Mr Kumar called for the Centre to establish a direct link with the Gram Sabhas.

Mr Ganesh Prasad Singh (RJD) said many weakneses of the Panchayati Raj functioning have come to light and it was thus critical to plug these.

PMK's M Ramadass suggested co-ordination of all funding to Panchayati Raj Institutions and better monitoring in this regard.

He said only a strong Panchayati Raj system can ensure that the dream of the Founders of India for wipping the tears of the poorest is fulfilled.

Pramod Panda (CPI) noted that without implementation of land reforms, the institution of rural bodies can not succeed. ''Further, it is unfortunate that the success stories of the panchayats don't catch the attention of the media.'' Jai Prakash (Congress) called for providing every panchayat a panchayat ghar, better financial standing, sanitation facilities and increasing the amount for the construction of a house under the Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana to Rs 50,000 from the present Rs 15,000.

C S Sujata (CPI-M), observing that the Kerala had beome an ackowldged leader in panchayati raj, asked for more decentralisation of the Panchyati raj and the urban bodies.

Karan Singh Yaav (Congress) said steps must be taken to ensure that the teachers, the patwaris and panchayat secretary worked directly under the panchayat members and not those of the bureaucrats.

Participating in the discussion, SP's Reoti Raman Singh stressed the need for seting up of small and medium level industries at the village level, for creating job opportunities in the country. ''This could be possible only with a strong Panchayati Raj system,'' he said. Raghunath Jha (RJD) urged the Chair that there is a need for a change in the law as the elected representative of the head panchayats could be removed by a bureaucrats.

He also said when the elected MLAs could send their representatives to the Gram Mahasabha, why could this not be allowed to the MPs who represent a much larger area.

Adhir Ranjan Choudhary (Cong) pointed out that the Panchayati Raj system could not be made a grand success until and unless all discrepencies were remove from the system.

Among others who participated in the discussion were Mr Meinya Thokchom (Cong), Ramkripal Yadav (RJD), Bapu Hari Chaure (Cong), Varkala Radhakrishnan (CPI-M), L Rajagopal (Cong), Lal Singh (Cong) and Francis K George (KC).

Earlier, Mr Devendra Prasad Yadav, who was in the Chair, said that after the discussion was over, Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer would give the reply today itself. However, the house objected to this and suggested that the reply should be made tomorrow.

Intervening, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs B K Handique said it would not be possible to have it tomorrow so the reply had to be completed today itself.

At this, CPI's Prabodh Panda raised the issue of quorum. At this, Mr Yadav said that in view of the mood of the members in the house, the reply would be made tomorrow or any other day but the discussion will be completed today.

He asked Mr Aiyer whether he was ready for the reply tomorrow to which the Minister said he was ready to follow the order of the Chair.


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