Preparations are on for launching a Local Self-Government Department (LSGD) Common Service ahead of the local body elections for enhancing the functional efficacy and project-planning capacity of local bodies.
The service being implemented at a time when the People’s Plan Campaign movement is celebrating its silver jubilee is expected to be a game-changer in project preparation, execution, and monitoring of urban and rural local bodies.
The service that integrates five departments (Panchayats, Urban Affairs, Rural Development, LSGD Engineering Wing, Town and Country Planning) and its 31,000-odd employees will help bridge the urban-rural divide and facilitate joint projects. It is also expected to do away with the parochial development concepts in vogue and the tendency of departments to function in isolation.
Kerala being an urban-rural continuum, a coordinated functioning of Corporations, municipalities, and three-tier panchayats would set the ground for balanced development through joint implementation of projects covering urban and rural areas without any hitch.
LSGD sources told The Hindu that the common service would not lead to concentration of powers or the return of a bureaucratic regime that thrived before the implementation of the People’s Plan campaign and instead would act as a catalyst for local bodies to take up new challenges.
The process for streamlining the five departments was initiated from the Secretariat. The first step was the functional integration of the Local Administration Department and the Rural Development Department at the Secretariat to form the LSG Department. A merger of directorates followed. The current system of urban and rural local bodies functioning under separate entities will go and all of them will come under a Principal Director at the State level and joint directors in districts.
This integration would make the management of exigencies such as natural calamities and spread of a pandemic like COVID-19 easier. Preparation of district plans, spatial plans, and projects will also become hassle-free.
A senior IAS officer will be the Principal Director who will be in charge of overall coordination and general administration of the department. Director for Urban LSGD will be in charge of projects and schemes in urban local bodies and Director for Rural LSGD will replicate the same role for rural LSGIs.
A meeting of department heads would be convened soon for working out a course of action for switching over to the new service, sources said.