The Panchayat Development Officers Welfare Association staged a dharna in front of the zilla panchayat office here on Wednesday demanding an impartial probe into the suicide of the Panchayat Development Officer Mandakini.

In a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and submitted to Chief Executive Officer of Zilla Panchayat Prabhakar Sharma, the association said the State Government had appointed the Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs) to strengthen the decentralisation of the panchayat raj system in the State in April 2010.

Of the PDOs appointed, three-fourths had good educational qualifications, and were appointed through direct recruitment. But the directly recruited PDOs were facing problems in carrying out their duties. Some recent incidents had shaken their confidence.

Mangala, a PDO in Bidar district, had been brutally assaulted by elected representatives. But Mandakini could not bear the harassment meted out to her and committed suicide in Gulbarga on October 16. These incidents showed that it was impossible for the PDOs to work in an effective manner. The elected representatives and higher officers were found to be non-cooperative with the PDOs, it was pointed out.

The PDOs in Udupi district were facing harassment in Hejmady, Hirgana, Mundkur, Kokkarne, Badanidiyur, Shirva, Hattiangady, Kadekar, and Hebri gram panchayats. Another important aspect was that most of these gram panchayats had women PDOs. The government should work to create a congenial atmosphere for the functioning of the PDOs. It should upgrade the PDOs to “B” category officers. The government should punish the guilty, who were behind the suicide of Mandakini and provide maximum financial relief to her family, the memorandum added.

Association representatives Anil Kumar Shetty, Rajesh Shenoy, Santosh Jogi, Supriya Prabhu, and Pratibha were present.

Training

After accepting the memorandum, Mr. Sharma said the zilla panchayat would hold training programmes for the elected representatives of gram panchayats and PDOs so that there could be better coordination between them. This would help them both resolve their problems amicably, he said.

Keywords: Bidar panchayat

More In: Mangalore