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Playing with Panchayats

Panchayat Raj has now become the essential component of administration. It is not only an administrative measure but intrinsically the Indian version of democracy percolating down to the villages and villagers. India lives in villages and as such unless our villagers are empowered as real partners in democratic dispensation we cannot make real progress.
We have had Panchayat elections in the State. The experiment was revived after a long gap and it is now in place. But Panchayat Raj does end with election of Sarpanches and Panchs. The concept of Panchayat in today’s context has been widened and made to cover the essential area of development. That is the reason why it is closely linked to district administration as a complementary part. When the concept of Panchayat Raj was first introduced in the country, it essentially meant a social institution that would take care of vital social matter like land and family feuds among the villagers and to help them to resolve these feuds. It was a means of saving the poor villagers from litigation and the waste of time whole the panchayats were capable of resolving social and family disputes amicably and satisfactorily.
The new concept of Panchayats is to make the village council take full part in the development of the village in more than one way. In the first place the suggestion of the Panchayat in identifying the development project is given first priority. This eschews the interference of political leaders who generally are glued o their constituencies and want the constituencies develop at the cost of other more prioritized needs of the general public. The Panchayats are supposed to be taken into confidence by the district administration. Some of the works are to be undertaken by the panchayats directly though, of course, technical logistics are made available to them. Among the technical logistics fall the services of Block Development Officers and Panchayat Inspectors besides other non-technical staff. This all falls under Rural Development Department and this department is preparing the entire agenda of development for the Block which comprises a number of villages. It is somewhat regrettable to say that the concerned departments like Finance, Planning and General Administration in the State have not been cooperating with the Rural Development Department in a manner that would expedite developmental activities through the Panchayat. They are divided over creation of 177 posts of Panchayat Inspectors and filling up of nearly 79 posts of Block Development Officers (BDOs) during the past quite long time. Due to lack of consensus, not only people are being deprived of timely services but the monitoring of developmental schemes is also suffering badly.
Block Development Officers are the nodal authority through which planning, funding, execution and monitoring of developmental projects have to be executed. In absence of BDOs there is no possibility of implementing the schemes in the right earnest and within the stipulated time. There are queries and obstructions either from the finance or the planning department and the proposals of the Rural Development Department is either turned down or put in cold store. Inspectors are actually the link between the panchayats and the BDO or the District authority which is usually the Deputy Commissioner.  On the recommendations of Cabinet Sub-Committee, a total of 177 new CD blocks were created by the Government in July 23, 2014. Why these vacancies of Panchayat Inspectors have not been filled is a baffling question and all that we learn is that the matter is left to the whims of the mandarins at the finance and planning departments who create more hurdles than facilities. Same is the case with the posts of BDOs, 79 of which posts remain vacant thereby blocking the way of Panchayat Inspector for promotion.
We would like to impress upon the concerned departments to evolve cohesion and cooperation because what they are dealing with is the development of the State and service to the people. They should shun the culture of confrontation. The Chief Minister has been emphasizing upon them the need of cooperation. Therefore, if that spirit is lacking somewhere the higher authorizes and the Chief Minister should order to rectify the fault.


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