Special Correspondent

To be merged with district plan panels

  • I will go by Sonia's view: Aiyar
  • He favours setting up Panchayati Raj directorate

    NEW DELHI: The Planning Commission proposes to wind up the District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) and merge them with the District Planning Committees (DPCs), constituted under the Panchayati Raj set-up.

    Planning Commission member B.N. Yugandhar said an announcement would be made shortly. He admitted that there would be some resistance to the move.

    At the third meeting of the Empowered Sub-Committee of the National Development Council on Panchayati Raj Institutions here, he said there was a perception in the Government that the DRDAs would function as parallel bodies once all DPCs were in place. However, this would not mean disempowering MPs, who head the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committees on implementation of poverty alleviation and Centrally-sponsored schemes. Zilla panchayats would continue to monitor the projects.

    The DRDA has traditionally been a principal organ at the district level to oversee implementation of the anti-poverty programmes of the Rural Development Ministry. Headed by the Collector or the District Magistrate, it is expected to coordinate effectively with other departments, non-governmental organisations and financial institutions to gather support and resources. Under the Panchayati Raj institutions, this work has been given to the DPCs and all funds will be routed through them.

    Agreeing with the proposal, Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said that as a Congress worker he would go by party president Sonia Gandhi's view that the DRDAs should be disbanded and MPs should not head the Vigilance and Monitoring Committees. "As it is, most States do not have DRDAs in place and there is no actual monitoring of schemes the way the Vigilance and Monitoring Committees are structured."

    He suggested the setting up of a strong Panchayati Raj directorate.

    Activity mapping

    The Empowered Sub-Committee was informed that activity mapping of all States would be completed by May 31. While Karnataka, Kerala, Sikkim and West Bengal completed and notified the process, Haryana and Orissa would issue a notification shortly. Other States were in the process of completing the exercise. The process of constituting the DPCs, barring in Uttarakhand, would be completed by March 31, Mr. Aiyar said.

    The Ministry decided to be liberal in releasing funds under the Backward Regions Grant Funds in 2006-07. District plans would alone be the basis for providing money.