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Panchayati Raj hands development key to villagers
- Rural representatives & residents to draft need-based schemes on governance & livelihood

Ranchi, June 19: Over 4,000 panchayats across Jharkhand are all set to become epicentres of various development and economic activities during the next four years, with two important departments chalking out special plans for inclusive rural growth.

The Panchayati Raj department, which sprang into life when rural polls were held around two years ago, is coming of age with village development plan — detailed development schemes across sectors for each rural hub.

The state’s rural development department, on the other hand, is preparing a perspective plan for pilot panchayat (PPPP), focusing on the creation of water-based facilities in villages under one cherry-picked panchayat from every block.

But first, Panchayati Raj department will teach elected rural representatives how to prepare an elaborate village development plan under Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA).

The Centre’s RGPSA, launched this year, envisages educating panchayat representatives on how grassroots democracy should function and how they should lead villagers on the path of holistic development.

This capacity building programme is to kick off in a month or so.

Thereafter, villagers, under the leadership of panchayat representatives, will draw up detailed development plans. These will be based on their own needs — housing, road, drinking water, livelihood, agriculture, education, health, sanitation, irrigation, fishery, animal husbandry and others.

Talking to The Telegraph, Panchayati Raj department secretary Rajiv Arun Ekka said: “Panchayat leaders, with their newly acquired skills, will help people in each village prepare a development plan, keeping in mind the next four years.”

Since the plans, he pointed out, would be prepared by villagers themselves according to their requirements, block-level officials would have to just execute them.

Ekka further said the villagers’ plans would act as pointers to which different schemes by departments concerned would be implemented from 2014 onwards.

“We will allow enough time — maybe two-three months — to villagers to prepare plans,” Ekka said, adding once each village had its own plan, no official would ever dare overlook it.

Similarly, the PPPP with special focus on water-based development work, under the rural development department, will involve rural body representatives and common masses as participants in framing the plan. Deputy commissioners of districts have already been asked to select a pilot panchayat from every block. Each pilot panchayat will prepare its water-based development schemes, such as check dams, ponds and wells.

“We will give Rs 1 crore to a pilot panchayat annually to execute schemes over a period of four years. Newly created water bodies will help villagers in farming, fishery and the like,” said state rural development secretary R.S. Poddar.

There are around 33,000 villages under 4,423 panchayats in the state. The panchayat polls were held between December 2010 and January 2011, after over three decades. About 53,000 representatives, including more than 30,000 women, were elected to represent the people at three tiers of grassroots democracy — panchayat, block and district.