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Empower gram panchayats, Government urged

Special Correspondent

Panchayat bodies in Karnataka performing better than those in other States, says expert

MYSORE: Lalit Mathur, Director-General of the National Institute for Rural Development, said here on Thursday that the Government should not hesitate to empower gram panchayats.

Speaking after inaugurating a satellite-based training programme for gram panchayat members organised by the Abdul Nazir Saab State Institute of Rural Development, Mr. Mathur said it has become imperative for the Government to devolve powers to gram panchayats after the 73rd amendment to the Constitution, which entails greater share of responsibilities and powers to the elected bodies at the grassroots level.

Mr. Mathur noted that gram panchayats in the State are better empowered compared to their counterparts in other parts of the country. The State Government has taken up computerisation of gram panchayats in the State and this will enable the authorities to harness information technology for rural administration, he added.

V.P. Baligar, Secretary to the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, delivered the keynote address on "Empowerment of panchayats: efforts of the Government of Karnataka." He said the State has emerged as a role model for the rest of India in empowering panchayat raj institutions.

Gram panchayats in the State are bestowed with greater financial powers as a result of which the institutions are now being given Rs. 5 lakhs to undertake development works as against Rs. 50,000 a few years ago. Taking various other grants into account, each gram panchayat in the State receives about Rs. 15 lakhs to Rs. 30 lakhs for development works, Mr. Baligar said.

He said all major rural-based activities and development works, including rainwater harvesting and revival of water bodies, will be undertaken by gram panchayats.

Mr. Baligar reminded the members that the Government is authorised under the law to take legal action against non-performing bodies.

Ashokanand, Director, Abdul Nazir Saab State Institute of Rural Development, and C.S. Suranjan, Director-General, were present.

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