Says he will meet Revenue Minister and other colleagues on Thursday

Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj H.K. Patil said on Monday that he would hold a meeting with the Revenue Minister and other Ministers concerned in Bangalore on Thursday to discuss the issue of difficulties faced by people in rural areas of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts while selling and buying land.

Addressing presspersons in Manipal, he said he had been informed by Congress leaders in Mangalore and Udupi that Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs) were insisting on Forms 9 and 11 of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Rules (Taxes and Fees) while carrying out transactions.

HC direction

Mr. Patil, however, maintained that forms were being insisted upon because of the directions of the High Court. “I will hold a meeting with the Revenue Minister and other Ministers concerned in Bangalore on September 19 and take up this matter in the Cabinet meeting on the same day. If not, we will hold a meeting on September 21 to discuss the issue,” he said.

The insistence on these forms was creating a lot of inconvenience to the people in the districts of Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga and Kodagu. “We want to simplify the rules of selling and buying land in rural areas,” Mr. Patil said.

Filling vacancies

Mr. Patil said his department would begin filling up the vacant posts of Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs), village secretaries, computer operators and other staff in gram panchayats in the next two to three months.

He said there had been little or no attempt to fill these posts in the last five years. This had resulted in a shortage of staff in gram panchayats. “We have started solving this problem and will be better placed in the next two to three months,” he said.

Dress code

On the dress code imposed on government employees, Mr. Patil said the government had come up with the stricture after a lot of thought. It was an honest effort. “This should not become a prestige issue. We want to take everyone along with us,” he said.

Modi issue

On whether the announcement of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the face of the Bharatiya Janata Party for the Lok Sabha elections would affect the Congress, Mr. Patil said: “When BJP senior leader L.K. Advani himself says Mr. Modi will not be successful, it would be wrong for others to have high expectations about him.”

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