R.K. Radhakrishnan

CHENNAI: Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin will chair meetings of elected rural local body representatives beginning next week.

“After the meeting of elected urban local body representatives organised in Chennai, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi desired that a similar meeting be organised for rural local bodies too. We have been working on this for a couple of months now and we are ready to hold such meetings,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Stalin said that four zonal meetings would be held since there were over 12,000 village panchayats in the State and all elected representatives could not be accommodated at one venue. “We have planned to hold the meetings at Erode, Tiruchi, Tiruvannamalai and Virudhunagar,” he said, adding that the first meeting will be at Erode with representatives of the western districts.

Explaining the significance of the meeting, Mr. Stalin said that he wanted to find out first-hand the problems faced by the local bodies and the issues that hampered their effective functioning.

“Essentially we are trying to find out what powers the local bodies would require additionally, so that these could be projected to the committee set up for the purpose.

Once the exercise is completed, we will draw up a list of common problems that the representatives of the local bodies had projected and put these before the committee that will look into the devolution issue,” he said.

He would complete the zonal meetings and finalise the recommendations to be considered by the committee by August 15, he said.

Two projects

Mr. Stalin chaired a meeting of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission at the Secretariat here on Tuesday morning. The meeting gave its nod to forward to the Centre two projects worth Rs.286 crore. One project related to the construction of an underground sewerage system for Madurai. Now, 50 wards in Madurai have the underground sewerage system. Another 22 are covered partially. The scheme would cover the 22 wards fully and was sought to be implemented at a cost of Rs.231.01 crore.

The second scheme was to modernise the vegetable market in Madurai at a cost of Rs.55 crore.