Panchayat Raj bodies at gram and taluk levels can hope for a significant hike in allocation in the coming budget, said Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar.

Speaking at a function organised by the Institute of Social Sciences to pay tribute to renowned economist L.C. Jain, here on Thursday, the Minister said that allocation for gram panchayats will go up from Rs. 6 crore per year, depending on the size of the population, to Rs. 10 crore, Rs. 12 crore and Rs. 15 crore.

Cause for resentment

He said that taluk panchayats, which hitherto had no financial allocation made directly to them, will get Rs. 2 crore annually. The fact that the second tier of the panchayat system had no financial or decision-making powers was cause for resentment among taluk panchayat members.

He said that the department now had Cadre and Recruitment rules, which allows for direct recruitment of executive officers and engineers. Earlier, these appointments were only on deputation, he added. There was also a move to appoint Panchayat Development Officers to all gram panchayats.

On corruption

He said that there was a gap between the ideals of decentralisation and practice on the ground. Corruption at higher levels was finding echo at the lower levels too, he said, and added that in some countries, people in power resign when a charge of corruption is made against them.

The former Minister B.K. Chandrashekar said there was a “10,000-mile gap” between what was promised in law and the practice on ground. He said he was pained to see that the price of every vote was “fixed” during the last panchayat elections. Political parties had played a big role in creating such a situation, he added.

The former Minister C. Narayanaswamy rued the fact that decentralisation of the planning process remains a dream, with pressure from politicians at higher levels and bureaucracy.