Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, the Uttar Pradesh government is all set to grant more powers to the urban local bodies and nagar panchayats in the state.
The various proposals that the government intends to roll out in a phased manner include granting them more financial autonomy to these bodies, enabling them to appoint contractual staff, expediting the process of filling up vacancies of executive officers (EOs). The dilapidated buildings that house the offices of urban local body heads too are to be renovated or reconstructed.
Urban development minister Azam Khan, on whose initiative a conference of chairmen of nagar panchayats and urban local bodies was held after a couple of years in the state capital on Wednesday, encouraged the nagar parishad and nagar panchayat heads to make proposals for construction of roads, interlocking tiles and beautification of road crossings.
“I would get up to Rs. 5 lakh sanctioned for beautification of at least one crossing in your area. Send us your proposals not just for this, but for various other development tasks and we would clear them quickly,” he said.
He assured the local self-government heads that funds won’t be a problem in carrying out development tasks.
“I assure you that we won’t sit on your requests to provide funds for development works. I also want to tell you that since you are elected representatives, my government would do its best to protect your honour. The clerical staff won’t be allowed to insult you,” he said.
Though Khan made it clear that this wasn’t an attempt to woo heads of local self-government, who belong to various parties, the political significance of his initiative was hard to miss. Khan, who patiently sat through the roughly four-hour-long conference, collecting requests and accolades, virtually conceded most of the demands of urban local body heads.
For instance, when his attention was drawn towards the lack of security being a big deterrent in carrying out anti-encroachment drives, he offered to talk to the chief secretary and the director general of police to get the local police stations to cooperate with the civic authorities.
However, he said, those displaced due to anti-encroachment drive should also be provided alternative space to carry out their livelihood.
To the demand to empower the nagar parishads and nagar panchayats to get hand pumps installed in their regions, Khan suggested that they should talk of installing overhead tanks and laying down new pipelines instead.
“That’s because there is hardly any space left for installation of hand pumps,” he pointed out.