Common people will have more power and involvement in local governance as per the guidelines on planning for local bodies formulated under the 12th Five Year Plan, Minister for Rural Development and Planning K.C. Joseph has said.

K C Joseph was inaugurating a one-day workshop-cum-training on Monday on plan formulation for block panchayat representatives organised by Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA).

Mr Joseph said Grama Kendram’s (people’s assembly) would be constituted in every ward to ensure the participation of local people in the preparation and implementation of development schemes. “An amount of Rs.50, 000 per ward has been earmarked for Grama Kendram project. Efforts will be taken to ensure the participation of local communities like tribal communities, theerasabhas and neighborhood groups in the planning process,” he said.

The minister said the State government would take steps to strengthen the engineering wing of panchayats by creating new vacancies and appointing an assistant executive engineer and an assistant engineer in every block panchayat.

“The shortage of technical staff is one of the major reasons why many development projects funded by the Central and State governments or through MP and MLA funds are not implemented on time. The Cabinet has already approved the creation of 68 AXE posts in block panchayats in the first phase,” he said.

The implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) projects would soon be modified to enable asset creation by including up to 40 per cent material component for works taken up under the scheme, he said.

“Direction have already been given to district collectors to fix local rates for various construction materials to introduce material component in MGNREGS works,” he added.Mr. Joseph also requested block panchayat representatives to give more importance to agriculture project in the new plan.

Kerala Block Panchayat Association president M. Manikantan, general secretary M.C. Mohammed Haji, KILA director P.P. Balan and KILA course director J.B. Rajan were present.