Omar to review strategy chalked out for empowerment of Panchayats on June 5

CS-headed committee finalises instruction manual of 14 Deptts

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, June 1: With the high powered committee headed by Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal finalizing instruction manual of 14 departments, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah is going to take detailed review of the strategy chalked out for empowerment of Panchayats by way of transferring funds, functions and functionaries of these key departments in the most effective and transparent manner.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that though General Administration Department immediately issued orders vis-à-vis devolution of funds, functions and functionaries of the 14 key departments to all the three tiers of the Panchayati Raj system soon after the Cabinet accepted the recommendations of Chief Secretary-headed panel last year yet there was no clarity at various levels in these departments.
“In the absence of detailed instructions from the Administrative Secretaries of these departments to the officials down below, the objective of devolving funds, functions and functionaries was not being achieved in effective manner”, they said, adding “in order to ensure proper empowerment of Panchayats, the Chief Minister in the recent past asked the Chief Secretary to carry out detailed exercise for addressing department specific issues”.
Accordingly, Chief Secretary held two meetings last month to address department specific issues and to simplify the entire decentralization process for its easy adoption and implementation on ground, sources said, adding “Chief Secretary also dwelt on the aspect of dovetailing of resources and effective collaboration between departments serving common interests”.
After detailed deliberations on all the aspects, instructions were issued to all the Administrative Secretaries to come up with the draft of the departmental orders to be issued for clarity vis-à-vis devolution of funds, functions and functionaries to the Panchayats. “Later, the drafts received from these departments were examined in Planning and Development Department and changes wherever required got carried out from the respective departments”, sources said.
In its third meeting held at Srinagar today, the high powered committee headed by Chief Secretary finalized the department specific instruction-cum-guidelines manual for transfer of powers to Panchayats with directions for strict compliance.
“Now, the Administrative Secretaries of 14 departments have been directed to issue departmental orders with the approval of Ministers Incharge within next day or two so that devolution of powers to the Panchayats begins in most effective and transparent manner”, sources informed, adding “as the exercise of finalizing instruction manual of the 14 departments has come to an end, the Chief Minister is going to have detailed review of the strategy chalked out for empowerment of Panchayats in coordinated manner in a meeting to be held on Tuesday morning”.
In response to a question, they said that instruction manual will guide the officers and officials right from Administrative Department up to block level about devolving powers to the Panchayats, adding now there will be no confusion about implementation of recommendations vis-à-vis empowerment of these grass root level democratic institutions.
They disclosed that Rural Development Department, on the instructions of Minister Incharge, Ali Mohammad Sagar, has also decided to prepare compendium of orders of all the 14 departments in Hindi and Urdu languages and the same would be distributed to all the Panchayats for more clarity and coordination in the empowerment of Panchayats.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the departments, whose funds, functions and functionaries have been devolved to the Panchayati Raj Institutions are Agriculture, Animal and Sheep Husbandry, Consumer Affair and Public Distribution, School Education, Fisheries, Forest, Health and Family Welfare, Horticulture, Industries and Commerce, Public Health Engineering and Irrigation and Flood Control, Public Works (R&B), Revenue, Rural Development and Social Welfare.