The Panchayats of 17 districts of Jharkhand have not received 14th Finance Commission grants just as yet. Despite getting 6.4 billion from the finance commission, the state government could not provide funds to the panchayats, as the money has not been released as yet by the Treasury. While the Gram Panchayats were suppose to utilize this money for various basic developmental activities like water supply, sewerage, solid waste management, sanitation, drainage and maintenance of community assets like roads, footpaths street lights and village graveyards but this whole process of transferring funds to the Panchayats is pending for the last three months. The Gram Panchayats of Godda, Chatra, Dhanbad, latehar,lohardaga, Deoghar and Khunti have received the grants but the rest 17 districts are yet to get their dues. As a result the basic developmental activities are hindered in these districts and the regular transactions at the block offices in the respective districts are adversely impacted as well. The Panchayat Mukhias across the state have gone on an indefinite “Pen Down” strike in protest from 15th November.
What does the departmental Secretary have to say:
On October 26, Secretary, Department of Panchayati Raj( DoPR) Mr. Pravin Toppo had said that the 14th Finance Commission funds have been allocated and released to all the districts. On being asked further on the non availability of funds in the 17 districts, he had added that the 17 districts which were awaiting funds would get their money soon as they were in process of releasing funds to them.
21 days later on November 17, when the same question was again asked to the departmental Secretary, he had said that the orders have been issued to the Treasury for releasing funds to the remaining districts but the treasury is yet to dispatch the money and he had helplessly pointed out that his department have no control over the treasury.
It is suspected by the concerned people and independent news agencies, engaged in the scrutiny of the matter, that this amount has been utilized in other activity heads and that the treasury does not have adequate funds to release to the districts.
The second installment of 6.4 billion for the Panchayat developmental activities were suppose to be released to the state by January’2019, which now would be further delayed from the finance commission as the state could not release even the first installment to the 17 districts and as a result the state would not be able to send the utilization certificate of the first installment to the centre on time.
What does the President of Jharkhand Mukhia Sangh have to say:
Vikas Mahto, the president of Jharkhand Mukhia Sangh says that development of the villages can be properly done through the panchayats.He adds that although the state government is talking about strengthening the Gram panchayats but their action seems to be contrary to their orations. The powers given to the panchayats are not adhered and implemented on ground and state’s inaction has been the prime reason for this. In these circumstances the Jharkhand Mukhia Sangh have declared a “Pen Down” strike across the state in protest of the adverse situation scripted by the Government.
What are the demands:
- Immediate Release of Fourteen Finance Commission funds to the remaining 17 districts
- Increase in MGNREGA wage rates
- Regularize pensionto the eligible people under NSAP( National Social Assistance programme)*
- Declare “ drought” in Jharkhand and ensure added benefits to the affected citizen
- Resume genuine ration cards which are wrongly deleted
- Add all eligible member’s names in the ration cards as soon as possible
- Increase inPanchayat Representative’s honorarium and payment of TA & DA to the PRI ( Panchayati Raj Institution) representatives.
- Implement Bio-metric attendance system for panchayat staffs at the Panchayat Secretariat
- Recruitment and filling up of current vacancies for Junior Engineers and computer operators as per the guidelines of 14th finance commission
- Social Audit of all government schemes which are being implemented at the panchayat level
- Revoke the orders related to formation of Gram Vikas Samiti’s and Adivasi Vikas Samiti’s. **
It is indeed a peculiar nature of the administrative systems which restrict the rights of the people at the ground and hinders basic services. Be it ensuring on time wages for MGNREGA, delivery of full ration benefits to the households or transferring entitled funds to the panchayats, the Government seems to be having too many problems while it comes to handing over rights and powers to people.
It is a shame that the departmental secretary becomes a mere helpless spectator even after issuing payment orders to the treasury and people’s needs at ground are never met. The panchayats being elected by the people but are being crippled by the state governments without proper power devolution to the last tire of democratic decentralized governance. A local government which neither have funds nor administrative and financial powers can only act as puppets in the hands of local elites and influentials.
- A jan sunwai organized recently in Ranchi has revealed that despote being eligible 1.7million people do not get pension benefits in the state (https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/despite-being-eligible-1-7-million-people-in-jharkhand-do-not-get-pension-61765)
** The formation of Adivasi Vikas Samiti and Gram Vikas Samitis have been challenged already in the court of law, citing that the formation of these committees are a violation of the Jharkhand Panchayati Raj ACT( JPRA’2001) and creating a parallel local government while the panchayats are already there as people’s elected bodies.
Debmalya Nandy Is a social Worker
This article is a translated and updated version of an article earlier published in Newswing.com