Meeting of Principal Secretaries (Panchayati Raj) Held

Dr. C.P. Joshi, Union Minister of Panchayati Raj & Rural Development, addressed the Principal Secretaries (PR) from all the States at Vigyan Bhawan, today. He advised them to take personal interest in promoting the cause of Panchayats so that the system all over the country is comparable or even better than that of the best performing States. The immediate areas where Panchayats should focus are those related to Human Development Index and activities covering elementary education, health & sanitation, integrated child development, women development etc.

NREGS is the best vehicle for empowering Panchayats as it provides for funds, defines specific functions for all three tiers of Panchayats and also provides for functionaries. However, this is not a permanent arrangement, whereas the Panchayats are permanent entities. Minimum staff and essential infrastructure required for effective functioning of Panchayats should be defined and extended to the Panchayats over a period of time. Simultaneously, effective system of functioning should be developed so that change of personnel by periodic elections / transfers does not affect their functioning. Panchayats are the principle planning and implementation bodies under NREGS. State Departments of Panchayati raj should focus on capacity building of Panchayats so that the local people benefit as well as the Panchayat system establish all over the country. Simple manuals explaining all aspects of NREGs should be immediately brought out and made available to all Panchayats. For effective planning in rural areas, qualified personnel in agricultural rural development / management should be made available as technical support to the Panchayats.

State Secretaries of Panchayati Raj confirmed that Panchayats are performing an important role in NREGS. However, this can be further strengthened. In many other schemes like National Rural Health Mission, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan etc. Panchayats are involved not as planning bodies but as agents to implement Plans prepared by line departments. This should be modified. State Secretaries also highlighted the need for providing Panchayat Ghars, setting up Block-wise Resource Centres, discouraging setting up of any new parallel bodies and making the existing parallel bodies accountable to the Panchayats. Rotation of seats between reserved and open categories at the end of every tenure was found to be affecting efficiency of working and, therefore, rotation tenure could be extended. They also requested the Ministry not to treat the BRGF grants as lapsable and if not possible to do so, given one year time to make up the lost time so that the most backward districts, who are by and large the slowest in utilisation of BRGF fund, do not lose their entitlement.

In the day-long meeting held at Vigyan Bhawan, Shri A.N.P. Sinha, Union Secretary, Panchayati Raj reviewed action taken by the State Governments in observing 2009-10 as the “Year of Gram Sabha”, embedding Panchayats in NREGA & other proposals, preparation of Integrated Plans at Gram Panchayat level, Capacity Building of Panchayats and the progress of Backward Regions Grant Fund, the flagship Programme implemented through the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

(Release ID :54732)