Staff Reporter

Federation demanded that State increase devolution of funds to the panchayat

to 18% at least

CHENNAI: More power, more funds for the panchayats — this was the demand of over 350 women panchayat presidents who gathered here on Tuesday for the fourth State-level convention of Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Presidents of Panchayat Government.

The Federation demanded that the State increase the devolution of funds to the Panchayat to 18 per cent at least. V. Vasanthi Devi, former chairperson, Tamil Nadu State Women’s Commission, speaking at the inaugural session, said that it was a democratic demand that needed to be fulfilled.

According to the Constitution, the Panchayat Government was guaranteed devolution of powers, financial and administrative reforms on 29 subjects. The State did not conform to this, said A.S. Rajeshwari, a panchayat president from Virudhunagar. If the powers were given, “we can take care of all the needs of the panchayat,” she said. In the current situation, she said that she was faced with hurdles in every step. The political parties who fought for devolution of powers to the State could not refuse devolution of powers to the panchayat on a democratic basis, said writer V. Geetha. Repealing section 205 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act of 1994, which allowed the removal of a panchayat president by the District Collector, was another demand of the Federation. Resolution of gender and caste discrimination faced by the women panchayat presidents were among the other issues raised by the federation. A charter of all the demands of the federation was released, which would be taken to various political parties to include in their manifestoes, a spokesperson of the federation said.

U. Vasuki, member of Central Committee, CPI (M), said that her party would take up the issues presented by the federation. “Some demands could be resolved at the Central level and some at the State. It would be useful to separate both,” she said.

Salma, chairperson, Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board, who represented DMK, said that she would take the demands to the party command.

Silambuselvi, secretary, Pattali Magalir Sangam, Pattali Makkal Katchi, said that she would take the charter to her party’s leadership. Jothimani, national secretary, Youth Congress, said she would take the charter to her party.