Report by Odisha Diary bureau, Bhubaneswar: A State Level Consultative Workshop with the Elected Representatives of 3 tier Panchayati Raj Institutions on “Empowerment of Panchayats” was organised by State Institute for Rural Development (SIRD), Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Odisha, in collaboration with Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Govt. of India on 02.12.2013 at SIRD, Bhubaneswar.
The aim of the workshop was to discuss ways in which the Panchayati Raj Institutions can be strengthen from the perspective of responsible, responsive, accountable, transparent, effective an efficient local governance system.
The objective of the consultation was to find out the key issues such as Gram Sabha (Quoram, participation of women and people from disadvantage groups, special Gram Sabha ), devolution of powers, PESA Act and Forest Right Act, the elections, SFC and pin-pointing on key deficiencies for preparation of a future course of action towards empowerment of Panchayats.
The workshop was inaugurated by Dr. H. K. Panda, IAS, Addl Secretary to Govt.of India, MoPR in the presence of Dr. A. S. Sahota, Senior Economic Advisor, Govt. of India, MoPR, Shri D. K. Singh, IAS, Commissioner-cum Secretary, Govt of Odisha, Dr. N. B. Jawale, IAS, Director, SIRD and Shri S. N. Dey, Director Panchayati Raj. The Elected Representative of 3 tier PRIs ranging from Ward Members of Gram Panchayats to Presidents of Zilla Parishads from all the districts of the state participated in the workshop. Inaugurating the workshop, Dr. Hrushikesh Panda, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Govt. of India, very clearly spelt out the aims and objective of the workshop and shared the issues and points of the consultation with the participants with a request to deliberate on the matters which would help in strengthening of Panchayats.
Dr. Sahota, Sr. Economic Advisor to Govt. of India, shared his experiences of such series of workshops held in different states in the country and Ministry of Panchayati Raj is accordingly working out a policy document for strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions across the country.
Then representatives from each district contributed their view point on the various themes like - Gram Sabha, Palli Sabha, Role of PRI in Poverty Alleviation Programmes, Provision of need for Local Area Development Grant at PRI level, Role of PRIs in the implementation of Line Department Programmes, effective implementation of Forest Rights Act and PESA Act, Role of PRIs in the implementation of IAP programmes and provisioning of an ideal infrastructure at GP and PS level in terms of rest place for visitors, toilet facilities etc.
After deliberations on the above themes, the Additional Secretary to MoPR, Govt. of India, suggested that Panchayati Raj Institutions, especially Gram Panchayat should focus its activities in the conduct of successful Gram Sabha meeting wherein the issues like Livelihood opportunities, plan for mainstreaming the gender in development, reducing Child Sex Ratio, Trafficking, Social Audit etc., to become the agenda discussion. Further he emphasized on the conduct of Special Gram Sabha meetings exclusively on the aforesaid issues.
Sri D. K. Singh, Commissioner-cum-Secretary to Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Odisha, shared the future course of action of PR Department in strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions under the newly launched scheme of Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan.