In a multi-pronged approach that would empower village administration and monitor the rural schemes efficiently, the Ministry of Panchayat Raj has proposed a Panchayat Service Cadre.
The cadre, which would provide a core complement of personnel to the panchayats, is intended to help local institutions handle responsibilities increasing with government programmes such as the MNREGA, Backward Regions Grant Fund, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission.
"Grassroots delivery happens at panchayat level. But sadly the state of machinery is appalling and not equipped to deliver the desirable results. The dedicated staff proposed would take care of people's interests at village level — bringing awareness and also act as checks to political intervention in works," CP Joshi, minister for rural development and panchayati raj, said.
The plans are big, as four posts — Panchayat Development Officer, Jr Engineer (works), Assistant Extension Officer and an Accountant cum Data Entry Operator — for each of the 2.4 lakh panchayats in the country have been floated.
If the plan reaches all, the cadre would provide about 10 lakh jobs to the rural India — a major boost to its employment and economy besides empowerment. Current state is dismal, as for example, there are only 8,000 gram sevaks operating for 50,000 panchayats in UP at present, Joshi said.
The panchayat raj ministry, which moved the proposal, also held consultations with state secretaries and ministers.
"The states were appreciative of the cadre idea that would strengthen the panchayats," a senior official said.
In its first phase, the scheme would cover gram panchayats with above 5,000 population. The 80 extremist-affected districts in nine states would also be covered in the first go.
To get the states interested, the Centre also proposed to share 80% of the burden of the cadre in first year, progressively reducing 10% every year — which means it has to be fully met by states from ninth year.