The Cabinet on Wednesday gave formal approval for introduction of five year plans in three-tiers of panchayats and abolish technical advisory groups involved in approval of plans.

Briefing media, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that the advisory groups were being abolished to simplify the plan approval procedure and reduce delays. Now, the panchayats themselves would draw up the plan on the basis of proposals from grama sabhas. The technical hands available in the panchayat should obtain the clearance of higher authority for the plan. Expert groups need be consulted only if technical hands are not available in the panchayats.

Anyone having complaints about the technical approval thus granted could approach an appellate authority chaired by the Collector. The authority would have the district planning officer, deputy director of Local Self Government Department and a town planning officer as members.

The Chief Minister recalled the State Planning Board had earlier recommended introduction of five-year plans on the lines of the plans being prepared at the national and State levels to streamline the planning process. The annual plans of the panchayats would have to be approved by the District Planning Committee within 20 days of receipt of the plan. Once the approval is received, the panchayat themselves could undertake the preparation of detailed projects and implementation.

Mr. Chandy said that the Cabinet had also decided to abandon the sectoral plan allocations for local self governments. However, village and block panchayats should spent 45 per cent of total allocation for infrastructure development. In case of municipal bodies, this would be 55 per cent. Besides, the three-tier panchayats should set apart ten per cent of their allocations for fulfilling the needs of the weak and disabled and older persons. Allocations specified for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes earlier would remain the same.

He said that Panchayat Raj Act would be amended to extend ban on plastics to panchayat areas also.