Working Of Panchayats In Manipur
- Part 2 -

Dr. K. Shyamsunder Singh*

Polling for Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats in Manipur valley districts :: January 11 2016
Polling for Nagar Panchayats in Manipur valley districts on January 11 2016 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Devolution of power:

The Constitution leaves it to the discretion of the States to devolve funds, functions and functionaries (3Fs) to the Panchayats. Panchayats/ rural local bodies are to be equipped with manpower, buildings, infrastructures, trainings etc, to enable them to perform their functions. Under Section 35 and 61 of the Manipur Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 the Government of Manipur have issued orders for devolution of powers and functions to the PRIs for economic development and social justice relating to 22 line Departments in conformity with the 29 items listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution of India and approved the Activity Mapping in respect of 16 line Departments.

Out of which, 5(five) Departments, viz; Fisheries, Horticulture, Tribal Development (SC), Science and Technology, and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Departments only have transferred funds, functions and functionaries (3Fs) to the PRIs for implementation of water bodies to enable pisciculture scheme, for increasing agricultural production, land reclamation and development of Schedule Castes.

Implementation of Integrated Rural Energy/Electricity Project (IREP) scheme sponsored by the Science and Technology Department has also been taken up by the PRIs in the 4(four) valley districts of Manipur. The Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has been transferring their staff and funds to the PRIs for implementation of development programmes entrusted to them from time to time by the Government. The remaining other line Departments have been reminded to devolve their functions, funds and functionaries (3Fs) as approved by the Government at the earliest.

Financial viability:

To enable the PRIs to become financially viable and self-supporting the Manipur Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 under its Section 40 and 70 empower the Gram Panchayats and Zilla Parishads to undertake taxation within their Panchayat areas with the approval of the Government. However, the Panchayats do not have any income of their own and do not levy any taxes, fees, etc, at present.

As part of streamlining for income generation by the PRIs, which has become a burning issue, the Director, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj vide letter No. 6/2/-10/86-PR/ Vol-Ill dated June 2014 submitted to the Government a detailed proposal containing all the relevant facts, figures regarding income generation by the PRIs in the State. Consideration for approval at the Government level is awaited.

State Finance Commission:

With a view to ensuring regular flow of funds to the PRIs so as to enable them to discharge their functions the State Government had constituted the 1st Manipur State Finance Commission in May 1996 and had submitted its recommendations to the Government. The 2nd Manipur State Finance Commission was also constituted in Jan, 2003 by the State Government as required under Section 97 of the MPR Act, 1994.

The Commission had also submitted its recommendations to the Government. The 3,d Manipur State Finance Commission has also been re-constituted under the Chairmanship of, Shri Rakesh, IAS (Retd.) vide Government of Manipur orders No. 6/9/2005-FC dated the 13th March, 2013. The Commission has been ordered to make recommendations covering a period of 5 (five) years commencing on the 1st April, 2013 relating to distribution between the State and the Panchayats of the net proceeds of taxes, duties, tolls and fees leviable by the State and measures needed to improve the financial position of the Panchayati Raj Institutions.

Finance Commission Awards:

Many infrastructural developmental changes were brought / initiated at the village level under the funding from the 11th Finance Commission, 12th Finance Commission as well as the State Finance Commission. Under the scheme, maintenance of civic services and infrastructure develqpment works, e.g ; Primary School buildings, Market Sheds, Drinking Water Supply Assets, Street lighting, Cremation/Burial ground, Data Base for 4 ( four) ZPs and 161 GPs etc; were taken up successfully by the Directorate.

The 13th Finance Commission Awards further enriched the living standard of the villages by taking up Core Services like Drinking Water, Sewerage, Waste Management Programmes etc;. Further, under the 14th Finance Commission Awards (2015-16 to 2019-20), during the year 2015-16 , works related to basic core services like Sanitation, Waste Management etc; have been taken up successfully.

Also during the year, 2016-17 a sum of Rs.3080.00 lakhs have been released to the GPs in all by the Ministry of Finance, Govt, of India. Works under the scheme are in full swing in all the GPs. The concerned Block Development Officers (BDOs) of the respective Block Offices are monitoring the progress of works taken up by the Gram Panchayats.

Further, under the Compensation and Assignment of State Finance Commission, during the year 2015-16, a sum of Rs. 947.2 lakhs have been released to the ZPs and another sum of Rs. 1420.8 lakhs to the GPs.

District Plannning Committee:

One of the key objectives of Panchayati Raj is to ensure that the process of planning for development in the State and country follows a bottom-up approach and commences at the grassroots level. The core approach is that the Village Panchayat level plans prepared with people's.

Participation are joined by the plans prepared by the District Panchayat and these are consolidated by the District Planning Committee along with the Municipal Plans into a Draft Development Plan for the district as a whole in accordance with Article 243 Z.D of the Constitution. The Manipur Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 at its Section 96 envisages for establishment of a District Planning Committee for each and every district in Manipur.

The District Planning Committees (DPCs) of the 4(four) valley Districts have been constituted by the Government as provided under the State Panchayati Raj Act. However, the District Planning Committees are not functioning properly. The first meeting of every District Planning Committee was held on 07th June, 2013. Further, the Government of Manipur vide orders no. 7/5/2014-RD&PR dated the 27th May, 2014 has constituted a 3(three) member Committee with Dr. N. Mohendra Singh, Former Professor, Manipur University & Former member, NER Vision 2020 as Chairman to look into the functioning of the District Planning Committees (DPCs) in the 4(four) districts and submit a report to the Government.

Complete report on DPC was furnished to the Government on 19th Oct, 2014 for perusal and taking necessary steps. It is expected that the Government will give due consideration to the recommendations and take necessary initiatives to concretise at least some of these recommendations at the earliest. Adequate infrastructure development and manpower support for the 4 (four) DPCs are still lacking and these need to be put in place to initiate the functioning of the District Planning Committees.

To be continued ...

* Dr. K. Shyamsunder Singh (Director (RD & PR), Manipur ) wrote this article for 'Manipur Today' that was published by DIPR Manpur in April 2017
This article was posted on June 03, 2017.

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