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Panchayats report to be discussed in Parliament

india Updated: Nov 22, 2006 23:07 IST
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The crying need for Panchayats is the financial strength to meet their functional mandate. Incomplete devolution is perhaps the greatest challenge to the effective functioning of Panchayats, says The State of Panchayats – A Mid-Term Review and Appraisal report. 

The report is likely to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday. 

Perhaps the most important lesson learnt from past experience is that the best approach is the "Big Bang" approach.Instead of gradually building up capacity and laboriously undertaking academic exercises in training Panchayat members,it would be best to entrust serious and substantial powers to Panchayats  immediately and rely on hands-on experience of administrative work to train the Panchayat members in their duties. 

The Ministry is in the process of evolving a Gram Swaraj scheme to reinforce  such a "Big Bang" approach to devolution by making available funds for building capacity and undertaking formal training exercises,the report said.         

In most states it pointed out  general purpose unconditional transfers to Panchayats are not very significant and where they exist are not given on the basis of a properly designed formula taking into account expenditure requirements of the Panchayats. 

The report said Kerala had shown the way with nearly 40 per cent devolution of its Plan outlay to the Panchayats for planning and implementation.In Karnataka financial devolution is of the order of Rs.7,500 crore per annum. 

For financial accountability Public Account Committees specifically for panchayats complemented with an Fiscal Responsibility Act is necessary,it said. 

A major challenge to be tackled "head on" says the report is the issue of "parallel bodies" .They must be brought through legal provisions into an organic,symbiotic relationship with PRIs  and report to the Gram Sabhas. 

Electronic Voting Machines for polling  and common electoral rolls for all elections will significantly promote the conduct of free and fair elections to the Panchayats,the report adds.

Former Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan said "it is a sad commentary on the Supreme Court. In such an important matter why it should not be possible for the Supreme Court to dispose it of very quickly. In fact, it should have ben decided within two-three months of its filing."

He pointed out that the Best Bakery case which was transfererd to Mumbai was decided quickly. "Why can't the same yardstick be applied to rest of the case sought to be transferred?" Bhushan asked.

"The principle applicable to the Besk Bakery case was equally applicable to other cases," he added.

Former Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan said "it is a sad commentary on the Supreme Court. In such an important matter why it should not be possible for the Supreme Court to dispose it of very quickly. In fact, it should have ben decided within two-three months of its filing."

He pointed out that the Best Bakery case which was transfererd to Mumbai was decided quickly. "Why can't the same yardstick be applied to rest of the case sought to be transferred?" Bhushan asked.

"The principle applicable to the Besk Bakery case was equally applicable to other cases," he added.

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