Telangana plans to overhaul gram panchayats

The Telangana government is contemplating radical changes in the functioning of gram panchayats by bringing in a new legislation to strengthen the system and decentralise power.

Minister for Panchayat Raj K.T. Rama Rao said on Sunday that the panchayat raj system being implemented in Karnataka and Kerala would be studied before formulating the new legislation.

The gram panchyats would be linked with 29 officials working at village level for proper utilisation of government funds and taxes collected from people.

The changes were being planned in tune with Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s commitment to strengthen the gram panchayats.

He would discuss the proposals with the Chief Minister before proceeding further. Their goal was to make village-level governments function as they were functioning at district and State level and the officials and employees of 29 departments would be part of it.

The Minister explained that the employees would be made accountable to gram panchayats led by sarpanches in discharging their duties. Making gram panchayats self-reliant would also be given importance by bringing in transparency in spending government funds and taxes levied on people.

He stated that improving tax collection in villages would be possible only when people were given confidence that the revenue would ultimately be spent on them alone. Steps would be taken to keep the details of works being implemented in the village, funds received from the government and tax collected in the public domain, Mr. Rama Rao said, adding that the government was also examining setting up special tribunal and ombudsman for panchayat secretaries and sarpanches.

The Minister stated that there were 5,372 clusters and over 8,000 gram panchayats in Telangana State now and upgrading the tandas would add another 1,200 panchayats.

Stating that women would be given importance in village development, the Minister said the operation of e-panchayat kiosks and drinking water grid village networks would also be given to women self help groups.

Source: The Hindu

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