At a time when there is a growing dissent in people against corruption, the Centre has asked for people's participation in scrutiny of schemes and programmes to ensure they are corruption free.
The ministry of panchayati raj that supports the ground level of governance — the panchayats — had last week sent strict instructions to the states asking them to convene the gram sabhas once every quarter.
A gram sabha is a general body meeting of all registered voters of a village to approve or reject proposals under different schemes.
There are 2.4 lakh gram panchayats in the country governing over six lakh villages — forming about 70% of the population.
The government now wants to work on the aspect of lack of interest from villagers.
It has asked the states to fix in advance the annual schedule of the meetings, 'to enable people keep time aside to attend'.
"It would ensure that there is no excuse of lack of response time or of notice (from the villagers)," the letter said.
Though the Constitution provides for such grass-root empowerment, the problem so far is implementation.
While in some states/ areas the Sabhas are never held, in some they are held rarely. In many cases, they are carried under shadow of power with muscle men intimidating the villagers.
The government asked meetings on important, controversial issues like on land acquisition, mining approval etc to be audio and video graphed.
"To maintain an even spread and scrutiny through the year, we have asked them to hold the meetings on four dates — 26th January, 1st May, 15th August and 2nd October," Kishore Chandra Deo, minister for panchayati raj and tribal affairs told HT.