Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Dr. C.P. Joshi has stressed the need to strengthen the elected bodies especially the Panchayats at the grass root level for the real growth of democracy and actual devolution of power in the country. Inaugurating the 10th Editors Conference on Social Sector Issues here today he said Panchayats are the grassroot democratic institutions and need to be further empowered through effective devolution of functions, finances and functionaries (3Fs) following the principles of subsidiarity and centrality of Panchayats. This would also ensure convergence of plethora of schemes and pooling of resources through holistic planning by Panchayats.
Dr. Joshi said the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is implementing the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) which was launched by the Government in January 2007 and intends to (promote decentralized, participative & holistic planning process, as an essential condition for getting BRGF grant. It bridge the critical gaps in development and (c) build capacity of PRIs & official functionaries. The evaluation study done recently shows that BRGF is extremely useful in meeting the local needs and PRIs and States have acquired good experience in planning and implementing the Scheme. Out of the plan outlay of Rs.4670 Cr. for 2009-10 for BRGF, Rs. 3240 Cr has already been released to States by 31st December 2009.
The 250 identified backward districts included districts where NREGA programme was being implemented along with 170 districts including 55 Extremist Affected districts which were also identified as the Most Backward districts by an Inter Ministry Task Group set up by the Planning Commission in August, 2004. The Task Group ranked districts on the basis of 17 chosen parameters relating to income deprivation, health and educational status and infrastructural inadequacy, summed up their ranks on the different parameters and arranged them on thebasis of their combined ranking to focus on relative deprivation levels. The Districts ranked lowest on the combined ranking list have been considered as the most backward in the country.
Another innovative initiative has been the inclusion of construction of Bharat Nirman Sewa Kendras and Panchayat Ghars under the expanded scope of works permissible under MNREGA. The scope of work under MNREGA has been expanded to include the construction of Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra (BNRGSK) at the Gram Panchayat and Block level. This is based on the demands made by states to strengthen the infrastructure at GP and Block level to enable an efficient implementation of MNREGA and to provide space for greater and more transparent interaction with the citizens. Panchayat Ghars would be developed as mini secretariat , as a forum for the rural people to meet, share and discuss their issues, to provide logistic support and as a record keeping facility center. Bharat Nirman Sewa Kendra shall be a single window for providing the information on MNREGA and provide feedback on the implementation of the program. Rural connectivity will also be enhanced. The idea is to slowly move from wage employment to self employment by providing skill development facilities to the rural people and in the process give a fillip to rural economy, Dr. Joshi added.
The press conference was attended by the Union Minister of State for Rural Development Shri Sisir Adhikari, Ms. Agatha Sangma ,Secretary Rural Development Rita Sharma, Secretary Panchayati Raj, Shri A.N.P. Sinha , Secretary Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Rajawant Sandhu along with the senior officials from the ministry of rural development and Panchayati Raj
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