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Violence during local body polls an aberration: Aiyar

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Mani Shankar Aiyar
Mani Shankar Aiyar

Special Correspondent

Draft Bill for establishing `nyaya' panchayats ready

NEW DELHI: Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has described as "aberrations," the difficulties faced in holding "free and fair" panchayat elections in Tamil Nadu. He pointed out that enquiries had been ordered into the incidents.

Responding to queries over alleged sale of posts, booth-capturing and preventing Dalits from participating in the elections, Mr. Aiyar said complaints were received from four panchayats and immediate enquiries ordered. The panchayati raj system was a massive social revolution and such aberrations would have to be dealt with.

He was talking to reporters after a discussion on `The State of the Panchayats, 2006: Mid Term Review and Appraisal' on Wednesday.

Mr. Aiyar said the draft of the Bill for establishing `nyaya' panchayats or village-level dispute settlement mechanism was ready. His Ministry recently received it for comments from the Union Law and Justice Ministry.

The Panchayati Raj Ministry had appointed a committee under the chairmanship of former Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Upendra Baxi to prepare a draft Bill for establishing `nyaya' panchayats. It was mandated to draft guidelines, rules and explanatory rules for the proposed law. "However, the Bill cannot be taken up during the winter session."

Tracking system

The Minister said the Centrally sponsored schemes of the Union Ministries would be restructured and substantially diluted from the next financial year to ensure that panchayats were central for the implementation of these.

To ensure that funds released for development schemes at the panchayat level reached the beneficiaries, the Ministry was working on an electronic tagging and tracking system by which it would be able to trace the amount. The Ministry planned to provide information technology and cyber connectivity at the village level and train elected representatives through distance learning programmes of Indira Gandhi National Open University. Mr. Aiyar said he had approached the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank for funding capacity building and training programmes for the elected representatives.

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