A parliamentary standing committee on Thursday said while the government was doing its best to strengthen the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), in reality, even the mandatory gram sabha meetings were either not taking place or being attended by very few people, especially the women representatives.
The committee on “Improvement in the functioning of panchayats”, headed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Sisir Kumar Adhikari, submitted its report in both houses of Parliament on Thursday.
“The committee, thus, strongly recommends that the MoPR (Ministry of Panchayati Raj) should impress upon all the state governments to put quorum in the gram sabha meetings for the participation of the panchayat representatives and women representatives,” the report said.
The committee also said the 13th Finance Commission grants for the gram panchayats were not fully released and fell short of Rs 6,904.10 crore as against the total allocation of Rs 65,160.71 crore.
“The committee desires to be apprised of the reasons for the lesser release of grants and its impact on the effective and efficient implementation of schemes by the panchayats,” it added.
The committee pointed out a severe shortage of support staff and personnel in the panchayats, such as panchayat secretaries, junior engineers, computer operators, data-entry operators and audit account staff at the ground level.
“The committee, therefore, strongly recommends that the MoPR should make serious efforts in recruitment and appointment of support staff and technical staff so that a smooth functioning of the panchayats is ensured,” it said.
The committee also said while the e-panchayats under the Digital India programme sought to completely transform the functioning of the PRIs, the ministry should ensure a regular supply of electricity for internet connectivity and the availability of well-trained computer operating personnel, so that the services of the e-panchayats reached the rural masses.