Staff Reporter

Aiyar, YSR to issue joint statement tomorrow

Elected members of PR bodies pour out their woes to MinisterAiyar says rotation of reservation in the State has reached "ridiculous" levelsState to issue G.O. delegating more powers to PR bodies

VIJAYAWADA: Union Panchayat Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy will issue a joint statement in Hyderabad on Saturday, outlining the steps to be taken to strengthen the Panchayat Raj ( PR) system in the State.

Addressing a meeting on `Devolution of powers to panchayat raj institutions' here on Thursday, Mr. Aiyar said that the joint statement would be a `revolutionary' one. It would enable the panchayat raj institutions in the State to "take a great leap forward."

The statement was an outcome of several discussions he had with Panchayat Raj Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy during the last two years, besides the discussions that went on between officials of the Panchayat Raj Department in the State and at the Centre.

Mr. Aiyar heard some of the elected representatives of different levels of panchayat raj system in the district in rapt attention, as they poured out their grievance about not being able to exercise powers and authority.

Mr. Aiyar assured them that they did not have to lose heart, as they would get enormous powers in the next five years. The Minister felt that the system of rotation of reservation for every five years in the State had reached "ridiculous" levels. When the seats of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes candidates in Lok Sabha remained unchanged during the last 25 years, there was no reason why it should be rotated every five years in case of panchayat raj institutions.

"The Constitution only talks of rotating the seats but does not specify the time period," he pointed out.

Mr. Aiyar made it clear that the Constitution did not specify where the intermediary level of panchayat should be organised. It was for State Governments to decide whether it should be a mandal or a block. He said that the ongoing `activity mapping' in every State would specify the activities to be taken up at each of the three levels of the panchayat raj system. This was meant to flow the required funds directly to every level, besides ensuring that the officials concerned reported at every level.

ZPTCs role

The Minister disagreed with the contention of elected representatives that they had no work to do and that the officials continued to rule the roost.

As he pointed out, seven committees on finance & planning; rural development; agriculture; education; women welfare; social welfare; and works were required to formulate the proposals and place before the general body of the Zilla Parishad for approval. It was here that the Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency Members (ZPTCs) could play an active role.

Panchayat Raj Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy said that the Government would soon issue G.O. delegating the powers in respect of 10 major subjects -- agriculture; animal husbandry; dairy; fisheries; health; sanitation; drinking water; poverty eradication; women and child welfare; and social welfare.

He said that the Government was mulling restoring some of the powers that were taken away from ZP chairpersons.

Higher Education Minister Pinnamaneni Venkateswara Rao, Eluru MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao and Mayor Tadi Sakuntala spoke, while local MP Lagadapati Rajagopal presided the meeting.