State rural development minister Jayant Patil said the cabinet had unanimously accepted 50 per cent reservation for women in local self-government well before the women’s reservation bill made it to the Rajya Sabha.
He was speaking at the fifth Yashwant Panchayat Raj Abhiyan award ceremony for the best performing local self-government institutions in the state. Patil said: “It is unfortunate that even today there are some political parties that do not want to give women their dues. And there seems to be an overall apprehension on whether this bill will see the light of day in the Lok Sabha.”
He added that within the state there was no dilemma on the subject. “We support the Constit-utional amendment of the Centre to have 50 per cent reservation for women in local self-government. We have sent our proposal to the Centre for approval.”
With this reservation, the state will have more than 1 lakh women in its three-tier local self-government institutions, as members of zilla parishads, panchayat samitis and gram panchayats. The cabinet approved 50 per cent reservation in the Assembly session in Nagpur in December last year.
The amendment, though, is unlikely to come up before the year-end, officials said.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the state was looking to revamp its planning process to ensure better civic amenities in villages. “We will try to devolve more power, and assign funds to local institutions. Our next step is to improve civic amenities in the villages, to ensure the inclusion of a development plan, and a town planner-level officer in rural areas.”
The ceremony hosted by the rural development department gave out three state-level and 18 division-level awards to the best performing local government agencies, which were judged on 11 primary criteria including the availability of basic amenities, hygiene, social schemes, financial and administrative skills.
The first state award among the zilla parishads went to Raigad zilla parishad for its slew of reforms, which have made the district malnutrition-free, brought primary healthcare centres online and connected to the district hospital, got ISO certification, and made the district “water tanker-free”.