Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Jagadish Shettar has said that steps are under way to recruit executive officers to the taluk panchayats in the State after amendments are made to cadre and recruitment (C&R) rules.

He was speaking to presspersons before attending a meeting with the Mysore Zilla Panchayat officials here on Friday. More direct recruitments would put an end to the practice of deputing officials from different government departments to the taluk panchayats, Mr. Shettar said.

Steps have been initiated to appoint about 600 engineers to the Panchayat Raj Engineering wing in the State. Proposals pertaining to this had been sent to the Finance Department for clearance, he said. Vacancies in the three tiers of the panchayat raj system were being filled in a gradual manner, he added.

On the differences of opinion between elected representatives and panchayat development officers (PDO) at the gram panchayat-level, he said he was aware of the problems.

He assured the gathering that he would convene a meeting of select PDOs and elected representatives, mostly presidents of the gram panchayats, in Bangalore to sort out the problems.

Referring to the alleged changing of names of beneficiaries picked at the gram sabhas for various government programmes, Mr. Shettar said he had come to know of various factors responsible for this. In view of this, he was sending a circular to some gram panchayats to record gram sabha meetings to ensure transparency. Such a move would leave no room for tampering with the lists of beneficiaries once they were chosen, he said.

Mr. Shettar denied the Government had undermined the powers of the zilla panchayats, even in terms of financial allotment, saying if it had happened, it would go against the principle of decentralisation of power. The zilla panchayats in the State would continue to get grants, he added.

When his attention was drawn to the misuse of funds under various schemes, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in the gram panchayats, Mr. Shettar said that steps were being initiated to set right the anomalies.

Cases were booked against many erring persons, he said.

Keywords: Panchayat Raj

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