OTHER STATES

Know about laws, local body chiefs urged

workshop: Rama Melkote, trustee, Centre for World Solidarity, addressing a gathering of panchayat presidents in Puducherry on Sunday.

workshop: Rama Melkote, trustee, Centre for World Solidarity, addressing a gathering of panchayat presidents in Puducherry on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: T. Singaravelou

Staff Reporter

Workshop discusses status of panchayat raj in Puducherry

PUDUCHERRY: G. Palanithurai of Gandhigram Rural University on Sunday called upon presidents of local bodies to educate themselves about the various laws and administrative formalities.

Speaking at the inaugural function of a workshop on ‘Status of Panchayat Raj in Puducherry and Experiences from South Indian States,’ he cited the example of how a panchayat president near Coimbatore had taken a loan of Rs 2 crore and set up a windmill. “This was possible because he had taken time to read a government order which permitted panchayats to receive loans,” he added.

Prof. Palanithurai said panchayat presidents must not give up their struggle for more power.

He asked them to include the public in the battle to empower the local bodies. Kerala and West Bengal governments had given more powers to local bodies, he said, adding that by not devolving powers to elected representatives the government was “committing a fraud on the Constitution.”

In her special address, Rama Melkote, trustee, Centre for World Solidarity, said that in India, which had been described as a successful democracy, there was a gap between procedural democracy and real democracy and this had to be bridged.

“There are plenty of rights and reservations available on paper but nothing much is happening in reality.”

She cited the example of how a president belonging to Scheduled Tribe community in her village was not being allowed to function by political parties.

Local body representatives had to fight against political interference so that they would be able to do something for the people, she said. The workshop is being organised by Holistic approach for People’s Empowerment (HOPE) in association with Centre for World Solidarity (CWS), a Hyderabad-based organisation.

P. Joseph Victor Raj of HOPE said the objective of the workshop was to discuss and review the functioning of panchayats in Puducherry, discuss strategies to strengthen them and share the practices and constraints on the functioning of panchayat system in neighbouring States.

G. A. Jagannathan, Convenor of Puducherry Union Territory Panchayat Representatives Association, said it was painful to note that the government had not responded to their plea for powers to have buildings for village panchayats and appointment of personnel.

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