The Telangana government decided to adopt the Gandhian approach to Gram Swaraj and plans to improve the Panchayat Raj system, which would be vehicles for ushering in the much needed socio-economic and political change in the rural areas of the State.
After the formation of the new State, the government decided to strengthen the village system by implementing Gram Jyothi scheme for comprehensive development of villages. It initiated several novel initiatives to ensure the complete empowerment of villages and with a new Panchayat Act, it would also bring in additional responsibilities and bring about transparency and accountability of village level authorities.
Gram Jyothi Scheme
This novel scheme was launched on August 15, 2015, with the aim of not only strengthening Gram Panchayats but also activating them. Under the scheme, the government will spend Rs 2 crore to Rs 6 crore on each village based on the needs. The government will release the funds based on the plan submitted by the Panchayats. Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao adopted Chinna Mulkanur village in Karimnagar district to set the ball rolling in this direction. The State government also decided to spend around Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years under the scheme.
Our Village, Our Plan
In place of the stereotype preparation of plans chalked out in Hyderabad, the State government wanted villages to prepare their own developmental plans. Yet another novel initiative ‘Our Village, Our Plan’ was launched on July 12. Based on plans submitted by villages, the budget estimates would be prepared and funds allocated. Similarly, every mandal will also have its own plan for development.
Under World Bank funding, the State government implemented the ‘Palle Pragathi’ scheme in 150 of the poorest mandals in the State. To increase the living standards of small farmers and SC/ST families, the government would be spending Rs 642 crore on this programme. The scheme is aimed at increasing the income of 2.5 lakh villagers by 50 per cent. Seed procurement centres, poultry units, paddy producing centres, pulse centres, milk centres, animal breeding units and soybean production centres will also be set up.
Computers provided to villages
The PR and RD Department has provided computers and other accessories to 5,785 villages to facilitate the setting up of the e-panchayat system. It will ensure transparency in governance and will also help in curbing corruption.The government is also planning to provide employment to about 10,000 rural women to operate computer services at gram panchayats.
Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs), who are already members of the Self Help Groups (SHGs), would be selected based on their educational qualifications for the e-panchayat operator’s job at gram panchayats.
The State government has sanctioned 2,315 gram panchayat buildings. Towards this, Rs 300 crore has been sanctioned. The Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Minister Jupally Krishana Rao says the government is also considering revision of budget for construction of gram panchyat buildings in the State.The present buildings were insufficient to accommodate more members working in the panchayats and due to the space constraints, the panchayats were unable to conduct review meetings. A proposal to increase the budget from the exisiting Rs 13 lakh to Rs 25 lakh for each building is under consideration.
New PR Act on the anvil
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao is keen on having a performing Panchayat Raj system in the State. With the objective of making the panchayats responsible for all round development of the village, the State government decided to bring in a new Panchayat Raj Act. The proposed Act would have provisions empowering the government to initiate action against those who fail to discharge their duties besides some other special provisions for ensuring cent per cent tax collection, making villagers responsible for village development by involving them in Shrama Dan programme once a week, constitution of coordination committees to oversee functioning of schools, hospitals, aganwadi’s and other public organisations.
Increasing the number of Panchayats
The State government has decided to increase the number of panchayats for smoothful functioning and administration. Though it has been a long pending demand, no government had come forward to raise the number of panchayats in the State. The Chief Minister during the separate Statehood movement, had assured the people that the number of panchayats in the State would be increased for easy accessibility. The State government constituted a special committee to study the feasibility of increasing the number of panchayats, and as per preliminary report, the committee has recommended creation of around 4,000 new panchayats in the State, including tribal hamlets. The department has identified around 850 tribal hamlets for upgradation into panchyats.
MB Records online to eliminate graft
Civil contractors who complete their works will have to submit details pertaining to the Measurement Book (MB) through the web portal for approval by a competent authority. Village secretaries who are entrusted with these jobs have been trained by the PR Department. In most of the major gram panchayats, computer operators have also been appointed to maintain the portal and upload permissions.
Our Villages, Our Vegetables
Besides providing Minimum Support Price for vegetable farmers, this scheme also facilitates marketing and sale of vegetables at reasonable prices to the people through various outlets that are being opened.
STHREE NIDHI BANKS
The government introduced the new scheme with an objective to meet the timely credit needs of self-help-group (SHGs) members for emergent requirement such as medical, educational and short term loans for income generating activites. The amount will be released within 48 hours to the group members. The State government has provided Rs 1,100 crore in the budget to cover all 2.50 lakh eligible SHGs in the State.
e-Panchayat services soon
The Panchayat Raj department is making elaborate arrangements to bring online services in village panchayats. People living in villages can soon pay their property tax online besides applying for permissions for construction of houses, layout and water tap connections. The services will also include a grievance lodging mechanism.
The State government is all set to introduce e-panchayat service in 8,684 village panchayats in 31 districts and the entire process would be completed in a short period of time. The Panchayat Raj and Rural Development (PR&RD) Ministry recently sent a high-level delegation to study the e-panchayat system implemented in Madhya Pradesh. The team comprising Panchayat Raj Commissioner Neetu Prasad, Assistant Commissioner Rama Rao and District Panchayat Officers Suresh (Medchal) and Padmaja (Rangareddy) visited Bhopal to study the implementation of e-panchayat system which will be christened as Palle Samagra Seva Kendram (PSSK) in the State. The idea is to ensure easy access of government-to-citizen services to villagers.
The system will provide both financial and citizen services to villagers at their doorstep. The initiative is expected to not only ensure hassle-free services to villagers but also save cost and time. Main services that will be provided under the e-panchayats include financial services from banks and Sthree Nidhi, including payment of pension, MGNREGS wages, Mee Seva citizen services, access to other government services and grievance redressal mechanism.
Once the T-fibre grid project is complete, every household will have Internet facility in villages. Transparency will improve in giving building and other permissions at the village level.