Devolution of powers to these institutions has lost its meaning, MLC tells Legislative Council

Kota Srinivasa Poojary, MLC elected from local bodies, on Thursday urged the government to revive the old glory of Panchayati Raj institutions.

Making his submissions under Rule 330 in the Legislative Council here, Mr. Poojary said the institutions — zilla, taluk and gram panchayats — have lost much of their powers.

Mr. Poojary said while funds for development are routed through zilla panchayats, the deputy commissioners hold review meetings. Standing committees of zilla panchayats have no power as they cannot oversee the functioning of respective departments. Funds released are riddled with a number of conditions forcing panchayats to seek frequent clarifications from the government.

While zilla panchayats have to release funds for drinking water, ironically the area MLA has to prepare the action plan, Mr. Poojary said.

Gram panchayats, the last tier of power decentralisation, have almost become defunct. While the government releases Rs. 8 lakh to every gram panchayat, the very same government instructs panchayats to utilise 60 per cent of the allocation to clear outstanding power bills and 40 per cent to salaries, he said.

Those gram panchayats without own sources of income have no other means to undertake development works, he said, urging the government to waive panchayats’ outstanding power bills in the budget.

Besides seeking the status of Cabinet rank ministers to zilla panchayat presidents, Mr. Poojary demanded that the honorarium being paid to panchayat members, including presidents and vice presidents, should be increased. He told the ruling party members: “Don’t ask me what we were doing when in power. Every successive government has contributed to the weakening of panchayat raj institutions.”

Walkout

As the Council commenced Thursday’s proceedings, Opposition members raised objections to the absence of Ministers, who were supposed to answer calling attention motions.

Leader of the Opposition D.V. Sadananda Gowda said several ministers including RDPR Minister H.K. Patil should have been present as per the list provided to him. Leader of the House S.R. Patil said the Chief Minister and Mr. Patil were busy in holding the Cauvery meeting and hence there would be some delay.

More In: Karnataka | National