Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill to ensure elections for the Panchayats in Jharkhand and provide 50 per cent reservation for women in these bodies.
The government at the same time assured the Rajya Sabha that elections for the local bodies would be held in the state as early as possible.
As the state is under President's rule, the Jharkhand Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2010 was taken up and passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday after being passed by the Lower House on August 17.
Replying to the debate, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister CP Joshi said, "Our intention was to hold the elections at the earliest."
Joshi also stressed on the need for having a dedicated staff for the gram panchayats and permanent buildings to utilise the money for rural development more effectively.
The minister also assured the House that the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Area (PESA) Act will be implemented in the state.
The bill will replace an Ordinance issued by the Jharkhand Governor in April this year to amend the Act. The Ordinance was issued as the state Assembly was not in session. Since later, President's rule was imposed on the state, it became necessary to table the bill in Parliament.
Elections to panchayats in Jharkhand could not be held for the last almost three decades due to various reasons, including pendency of certain litigations.
Participating in the debate, S S Ahluwalia (BJP) said Jharkhand was deprived of the money awarded by Finance Commissions to states having Panchayati Raj institutions.
Coal, bauxite, mica and iron ore is found in abundance in Jharkhand and their transportation by trucks damaged rural roads, he said adding elections to panchayats would ensure that panchayat bodies will take care of the needs of such areas.
Mani Shankar Aiyar (Cong) said with the passage of the bill, schemes for development could start at the lowest level.
He also asked the Minister to bring out a roadmap so that Jharkhand becomes the 'number one' state in Panchayati Raj implementation and also sought implementation of PESA.
Aiyar said naxalism was spreading in those areas, which come under Schedule V and where PESA has not been implemented. He said "terrorism in jungles" would continue till PESA is not implemented and it was not the job of the Home Minister to check this but the job of Panchayati Raj minister.
Mabel Rebello (Cong) said, "Rs 723 crore owed by the 11th and 12th Finance Commissions should be given to Jharkhand as soon as elections to the Panchayati Raj is held."
Pyarimohan Mahapatra (BJD) demanded that mineral-bearing states like Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh be given 20 per cent royalty on minerals. If this is followed, Orissa will get Rs 50,000 crore in five years while Jharkhand and Chattisgarh will get Rs 30,000 crore each during the period, he said.
Others who participated in the discussions included Jharna Das Baidya (CPI-M), R C Singh (CPI), Brijlal Khabri (BSP), Ram Kripal Yadav (RJD) and Jai Prakash Narain Singh (BJP).