The government has decided to re-classify 529 town panchayats on the basis of fresh income criteria of the local bodies.

Announcing this in the Assembly on Tuesday at the end of the debate on the demands for grants of his departments, Municipal Administration and Rural Development Minister K.P. Munusamy said for town panchayats to be brought under special grade, their annual income should exceed Rs. 200 lakh; for selection grade, it should be in the range of Rs. 100 lakh to Rs. 200 lakh; for Grade I, the income should be in the range of Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 100 lakh and for Grade II, the income should be less than Rs. 50 lakh.

[A senior government official explains that the reclassification would benefit to people in the form of better level of supervision of the functioning of the local bodies and deployment of greater human resources to serve].

The need for the new classification arose as the existing classification was as per the income of the local bodies in 1993. Under the present norms, town panchayats with the annual income of over Rs. 20 lakh were called special grade; those in the range of Rs. 16 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh – selection grade; Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 16 lakh – Grade I and Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh – Grade II. The break up of the town panchayats under the present norms was: special grade – 12 town panchayats; selection grade – 222; grade I – 215 and grade II – 80.

Service level

Pointing out that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordered the coverage of 6,000 rural habitations initially under the revised norm of 55 litres per capita per day (LPCD), the Minister said the coverage would be achieved through individual power pump schemes and combined water supply schemes at a cost of Rs. 1,190.72 crore, drawing the assistance from the Minimum Needs Programme/National Rural National Rural Drinking Water Programme.

[At present, the service level is 40 LPCD. Of 94,614 rural habitations in the State, around 91,000 habitations are fully covered with the rest partially covered, according to an official in the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board].

Proposals for eight combined water supply schemes, aimed at benefiting 10.66 lakh people in 3,005 rural habitations, 14 town panchayats and one municipality (Padamanabhapuram of Kanyakumari district) in the districts of Cuddalore, The Nilgiris, Erode, Tirupur, Theni and Sivaganga, would be taken up for survey this year.

A sum of Rs. 22 crore would be set apart for the establishment of 80 dog shelters and the purchase of 60 vehicles to capture dogs. This was meant for municipalities and municipal corporations excluding Chennai.

A new building would be constructed to accommodate Commissionerate of Municipal Administration and Directorate of Town Panachayats at a cost of Rs. 25 crore, the Minister added.

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