PM wants states to take initiative to improve rural landscape

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New Delhi, Apr 24 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked the state governments to take initiatives to use the mechanism of Panchayati Raj institutions for bringing a fundamental change in hygiene, education and health in the rural sector to enable India emerge as a role model of grassroots democracy on the world map.

''We are giving utmost importance to the direct involvement (bhagidari) of the Panchayats to materialise the Centrally sponsored programmes at the grassroots level,'' Dr Singh said.

He said the move would go a long way in achieving the targets of the 11th Five Year Plan towards the inclusive growth wherein every citizen of India becomes beneficiary of the all-round development.

Dr Singh made these observations while addressing the National Convention of presidents of Zila Parishads and Intermediate Panchayats on the outskirts of the national capital.

Quoting first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, the PM said the struggle, which was waged against poverty, diseases and illiteracy by them still continued.

''We have given a special right to the Panchayats so as the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme meets a total success.

Similarly, the Panchayats have also to play an important role towards the success of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). That is why we have opened schools almost at every place and implemented the midday meal scheme,'' he added.

The Prime Minister also sought a greater association of the Panchayati Raj institutions in the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

Stating that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre has spent over Rs 10,000 crore during the last two years towards the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), he said ''This is the first time that any government at the Centre has taken such a step of this magnitude whereby the scheme has been implemented in all the districts of the country.'' He said it was now the responsibility of the state legislature to ensure that the scheme was implemented in a proper manner. ''The role of the panchayat should not only be to participate in the implementation of the scheme but also to work as a watchdog,'' he said.

On the training of the Panchayati Raj representatives, he said it was a huge task as over 32 lakh representatives, including the SC/ST members were involved. Modern technology should be used and every Panchayat should have a computer, he suggested adding that the members should also use the Right to Information Act to their benefit.

''Women empowerment through these institutions in our country is unique and unparalleled,'' he added.


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