Two administrative decisions altering ways of devolution of funds in the cash-rich rural development sector have triggered protests by presidents, vice presidents and members of janpad and district panchayats across MP, who want ‘defined roles in the development process’.
State BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan was unsuccessful in resolving issues with representatives of janpad and district panchayats during a meeting on September 30.
He then convened a meeting on Wednesday which has been boycotted by a section of the panchayat office bearers, suggesting that the impasse continues.
Sources in the rural development department said since the commencement of the 2015-16 financial year, two important changes have taken place in devolution of funds in the rural development department.
For one, in schemes like Indira Awas Yojana, MNREGS etc, the money is being transferred directly to the bank account of the beneficiary through RTGS, thereby reducing the role of elected representatives in releasing the funds.
Second, the GoI has ruled that funds released under the XIV finance commission have to be released by the state government directly to the gram panchayats, thereby bypassing the janpad and district panchayats. The lack of role in releasing funds is the biggest reason for the janpad and district panchayat presidents being disgruntled.
“Madhya Pradesh has been allocated a share of Rs 1,400 crore under XIV finance commission, of which Rs 700 crore has already been disbursed to gram panchayats. The janpad and district panchayats did not have a say in this disbursement nor were the funds credited to their accounts. The state government has also issued guidelines to gram panchayats on what the funds should ideally be spent on,” said an official of the rural development department.
“Politics is very competitive in rural areas and victory comes after investing large amount of money. People come with their demands which are difficult to fulfil, since we have no role in decision-making now,” said a district panchayat president from Malwa region.
What has added to the woes of the janpad and district panchayat office-bearers in the reduction in budget compared to previous years.
“The GoI is of the view that states should fund the janpad and district panchayats. Other options like the MP and MLALAD funds can also be used,” said the official of the RD department.
3-tier panchayat bodies in state
Total districtpanchayats in state — 51
Total elected members of district panchayats — 852
Total janpad panchayats — 313
Total elected members of janpad panchayats — 6,790
Total gram panchayats — 22,819
Total elected members of gram panchayats — 3,62,529