Elected women representatives at the Mahila Shakti Abhiyan in Morabadi, Ranchi, on Saturday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Feb. 23: In a telling show of strength more than 31,000 elected women representatives assembled at Ranchi’s Morabadi Ground today to demand devolution of more powers to panchayati raj institutions.
The women, who made their way to the capital from South Chotanagpur, Palamau, Santhal Pargana, North Chotanagpur and Kolhan divisions, wanted the state to immediately delegate power to them and fix accountability in their respective panchayats.
The daylong Panchayat Mahila Shakti Abhiyan was organised by the state panchayati raj department and governor Syed Ahmed was chief guest.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Sushma Kushwaha, a 28-year-old sarpanch from Marak block of Garhwa district said despite putting in their best efforts, they had failed to produce the desired results at the grassroots level.
“Since I was voted to power two years ago I have only been able to provide Indira Awas Yojana Scheme to eight beneficiaries in my area. I have approached the block development officers for help, but they cited helplessness due to a lack of funds,” Kushwaha said.
Echoing her, Chainpur village sarpanch Lalita Kushwaha rued that she had not been able to provide the elderly in her area old age pension benefit schemes. “Around 200 filled-up forms are lying with the authorities without being processed due to a funds crunch. We had approached the deputy commissioner of Palamau, but all our pleas so far have fallen on deaf ears,” she said.
Others like Manju Devi of Palamau said the state should immediately give them more power so that they could take decisions on their own and make the panchayats corruption free.
“To address the problem of corruption, we need to get on the field. But the government does not give us any dearness or travelling allowances. We have to spend from our own pockets,” Devi said.
She added that that during their visits they had found a dearth of teachers in primary schools and the roads connecting the villages to be in an extremely poor condition. “But we are helpless,” she said.
Some others demanded that the state should hold more awareness campaigns for them, while others said they were mere puppets in the hand of block development officers.
“Hum logo k haathon mai kuch nahi hai (We have no power),” rued Yogmati Devi of Bokaro’s Chandrapura block.
Later, governor Ahmed promised to look into the issue and link the women with various government departments like health, education, social welfare, arts and culture and water resources so that the elected representatives could make the best use of government schemes.