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`External factors delaying Panchayati Raj projects'

Staff Reporter

Inadequate, belated release of funds from Government, say experts


  • Study conducted in the PRIs under Wadakkanchery block panchayat in Thrissur district
  • It says, efficiency level of local bodies is above comparable bureaucratic channel

    THRISSUR: Though Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) are generally being blamed for the delays in preparation and execution of various projects, in most of those cases, time-lags cannot be attributed to their internal factors but are mostly caused by external factors on which they have no control.

    This has been revealed by a study conducted in the PRIs under Wadakkanchery block panchayat in Thrissur district by Dr. Chathukulam director of the Centre for Rural Management, Kottayam, and his colleagues.

    Pace of progress

    The study which made an attempt to quantify the pace of progress of formulation and execution of the projects by the PRI through a specially devised methodology, has found that much of the delays were happening during the phases of administrative sanction (AS), district planning committee (DPC) clearance, technical sanction (TS) and commencement of the work, Dr. Chathukulam told The Hindu here.

    He says that the time lapse between AS and DPC clearance was found to be about 43 days in the case general category projects and about 35 days for those in the Scheduled Caste (SC) category.

    The time lapse between DPC clearance and TS was about 109 days for general category projects while it was about 101 days in the case of SC projects.

    The delay

    The study has found that there was a delay of about 166 days between the technical sanction and commencement of work in the case of general category projects, while it was about 186 days for the projects meant for SCs. Interestingly it was found that the time lapse between the commencement of work and completion was only 50 days in the case of general category projects and 42 days in the case of SC category projects, Dr. Chathukulam says.

    He says that the PRIs have at present no control over the AS, TS and DPC clearance for projects and there is no point in blaming them for the delays at those phases.

    On the other side, even after all the clearances, the PRIs were found to be unable to commence the work on the projects because of the inadequate and belated release of funds from the Government.

    Dr. Chathukulam says that these problems of externalities can be addressed only with the formation of strong structures constituted with a spirit of genuine decentralisation.

    According to Dr. Chathukulam, the efficiency level of the local bodies is not too bad regarding administration of projects under the previous Government's Kerala Development Programme (KDP) which was the renamed version of the People's Plan Campaign (PPC) of the earlier Left Democratic Front Government.

    "While considering the complexities under these projects were executed, we can see that the efficiency level of local bodies is above comparable bureaucratic channels,' he says. However, the reviews of decentralised planning programmes both under PPC and KDP, so far undertaken, often found to be revolving around `Polymix' (Politically overloaded discourses, discussions and overtones).

    No serious attempt to study the technical and administrative aspects of decentralisation has been done in the State so far.

    Methodology

    He says that the methodology, approach and findings of concurrent monitoring of project during the KDP can be used as a powerful tool towards identifying, understanding and analysing the problem areas in decentralised planning and administration of projects in the State.

    "There is an urgent need to revisit the `syntax and semantics of the decentralised planning' to add more teeth to its implementation in the State," Dr. Chathukulam says.

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