Monday, September 14, 2009

NREGS works by nominated panels Unwarranted: Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today charged the State Government with enervating and emasculating people-elected panchayats by choosing to entrust implementation of NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) works to nominated INDIRAMMA committees.

According to Mr. Botsa Satyanarayana, Minister for Panchayati Raj, road and drainage works worth Rs.1200 crore are to be taken up under the NREGS. Zilla parishads are being allotted Rs.700 crore for taking up the rural connectivity project and each mandal praja parishad Rs.50 lakh for taking up internal roads, drains and roads to fields etc. “The works shall be entrusted to the implementation-cum-monitoring committee constituted at the village panchayat level.”

Headed by the village sarpanch, the implementation committee comprises a panchayat member, an SHG representative, a social activist and the panchayat secretary as its members.

Talking to the media, Dr. JP said that the Andhra Pradesh Government has been guilty of violating the spirit of Constitutional amendments No.73 and 74 under which it is expected to devolve powers, resources and personnel on local governments. The Government sought to further weaken the local governments by deciding to entrust NREGS works to nominated committees instead of the elected panchayats.

Dr, JP objected to the decision on three counts: First it would inject partisan politics into selection and execution of works in that the nominated members of the INDIRAMMA committees would have a greater say. Second, it would facilitate corruption in that one of the nominated committee members is to enter into an agreement with the department for execution of works and receipt of payments. Third, it would make elected panchayats totally ineffectual.

The Lok Satta Party President wanted the Government to dispense with multiple rural rural development schemes costing thousands of crores, all of which facilitated siphoning of funds at all levels -- from the State and the district to the mandal level. Instead, the Government should switch over to a scheme of making per capita grants to elected bodies in both rural and urban areas. A per capita grant of Rs.1000 a year to a village with a population of say 5000 will enable it to receive Rs.50 lakh. The elected panchayat which is the best judge of local needs ranging from drinking water and sanitation to roads and street lights will choose its priorities and spend the amount judiciously as villagers keep a hawk’s eye on them.

Dr. JP said that the Political Affairs Committee of the party, which met yesterday and today, decided to launch a movement in all municipalities seeking devolution of powers, resources and personnel on ward or division committees so that they could identify local needs and fulfill them with a per capita grant of Rs.1000 from the local boy or the Government to begin with.

Dr. JP said it was time that all elected local governments rose in revolt for self–reliance and empowerment. This fight must start with a campaign against the Government’s ill-advised moves to weaken them.

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