Staff Reporter

Says steps being taken to revitalize them by extending additional powers

Minister for transferring health subject to panchayatsVillagers asked to periodically enquire about the activities of panchayatsDWCRA women complain about banks not extending loans at 25 paise interestMore funds sought for developing water supply system

VIJAYAWADA: Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, Youth Services and Sports Mani Shankar Aiyar on Wednesday said that the Janmabhoomi programme of the erstwhile Telugu Desam Party completely demolished the Panchayat Raj (PR) institutions in the State.

Mr. Aiyar said that the PR institutions needed a fresh lease of life and should get more powers and funds.

Speaking after participating in a grama sabha at Paritala in the district, Mr. Aiyar said that 10 years of Janmabhoomi under the TDP rule badly impaired the panchayat raj set-up.

Focus areas

He said that steps were being taken to infuse new life and rejuvenate the PR institutions by giving them 10 additional powers soon. Earlier, presiding over the grama sabha, Mr. Aiyar laid emphasis on devolution of powers, spending and usage of funds by panchayats, and also transferring important subjects like health to village panchayats.

He insisted on the panchayat members to enquire about the panchayat activities and participate actively in the `grama sabhas.' Mr. Aiyar advised the people to learn about the functioning of panchayat and question the sarpanch on various issues including the manner of spending of funds.

Interacts with women

"You should ask if the panchayat has received any funds. You should keep asking the leaders and officials concerned.

If the sarpanch doesn't tell you, ask the MLA, the MP and the Minister," he said.

Mr. Aiyar got down from the dais and went to each participant to hear them speak about their needs and demands.

A woman told the Union Minister that drinking water was being supplied once a week and wanted more funds to be allocated for developing water supply system.

A DWCRA group leader from neighbouring Kanchikacherla village said that their services to society were going unnoticed.

Another woman complained about the banks not passing on the benefits under the `pavala vaddi' (loans at 25 paise interest) scheme to DWCRA members.

`Follow your MP'

Mr. Aiyar advised the villagers to follow the example of local MP L. Rajagopal in collecting information about panchayats and questioning the people concerned. "Mr. Rajagopal knows more about my Ministry than I. The MP raised a number of questions in Parliament," he added.

Mr. Rajagopal, who translated the Minister's speech, also advised the villagers to take interest in knowing about the functioning of the panchayat.

Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary Samuel, District Collector Navin Mittal, Joint Collector S. Suresh Kumar, VGMT-UDA Chairman Malladi Vishnu and others were present.