TODAY -

Developmental Schemes and Challenges of Panchayati Raj :
A perspective on Bishnupur District, Manipur
- Part 2 -

Amom Thoinu *

 National Panchayat Day Observed on April 24 2017
National Panchayat Day Observed on April 24 2017 :: Pix - DIPR



The main target of the study is to insight different issues of developmental schemes that many schemes have been implementing in the state but it is very much questionable on the achievement in the rural areas of Bishnupur District. It is also to study the issues and challenges of local self government in Manipur in general and Panchayati Raj in particular. Besides, there are issues of unable to submit utilization certificate by Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department. Even in the administration there is lot of confusion that the issue of devolution of power is still alive.

Sanjoy and Tomba (2013) analysis focus on Rural Poverty Alleviation Programmes: A Study of Mgnrega in Manipur, it revealed that the Govt. has implemented many rural development schemes such as the SGSY (Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana), IAY (Indira Awaas Yojana), PMGY (Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana), PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Shadak Yojana) etc.

But this programme could not bear the desired reasons due to inconsistency between scheme aims, poor quality of asset creation, lack of resources and manipulation of the record. To overcome this problem the present paper, an attempt has been made to analyse the implementation of MGNREGA in Thoubal District of Manipur. Dipanjan, (2005) argument stated that the Panchayati Raj institutions were functioning only in the valley districts and Jiribam sub-division. In the hill districts, there were village authorities, almost similar to village Panchayats, functioning under the provisions of the 1956 Manipur (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act.

The Post- independence phase of Panchayat Raj is marked with significant developments. Further the analysis revealed that there is also a need to re-look at the way Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are working in the North-East. The PRIs which devolves the powers to the people and promotes self-reliant and self-sufficient local institutions has remained defunct in the region largely due to overlapping laws and institutions.

Issues of power devolution

The constitution leaves it to the discretion of the states to devolve funds, functions and functionaries (3Fs) to the Panchayats. Under the Section 35 and 61 of the Manipur Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 the Government of Manipur have issued order for devolution of powers and functions to the PRIs for economic development and social justice relating to 22 like 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 department.

(Shyamsunder, 2017) Out of which 5 departments, viz; Fisheries, Horticulture, Tribal Development (SC), Science and Technology, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Departments only have transferred funds, functions and functionaries 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 Rural Energy/Electricity project (IREP) scheme sponsored by Science and Technology Department has also been taken up in the 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 as approved by the government at the earliest.

Step forwards for social development

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 different Manipur State Finance Commission in different years since 1996 to improve the financial position of the PRIs. Finance Commission Awards - Many infrastructural development changes were brought / initiated at the village level under the funding from the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th Finance Commission. Under the scheme, maintenance of civic services and infrastructure development works, e.g., Primary School Buildings; market sheds; drinking water supply assets; street lighting; and cremation/burial ground.

The 13th Finance Commission Awards further enriched 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, and 2016-17 work related to basic core services like sanitation, waste management etc. have been taken up successfully. (Shyamsunder, 2017).

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY)

The Union Government has initiated a visionary scheme called the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development programme (MPLADP). The scheme envisages to initiate building the Nation from the village level and develop one model GP/ Village in each of the constituency of the concerned MP by the year, 2015 and 2(two) more model villages by the year, 2019. In Manipur, 3(three) Model GPs villages were selected to initiate the scheme during the year, 2016.

They are (i) Ngairangbam model village at Ngairangbam GP (Imphal West District) launched by the MP(IPC) Dr. Th. Meinya, (ii) Hayel-Hangoon Modet village at HayeL-Hangoon G.P. (ThoubaL District) launched by the MP (RS), Late Haji Abdul Salam and iii) Kangvai Model village (Churchandpur District, launched by the MP (OPC) Thangso Baite.

The 4th Model Village has been initiated under the aegis of the District Rural Development Agency (DRADA), Imphal East by launching the Pukhao GP of Sawombung CD Block as the Model Gram Panchayat / Village on 18th March, 2017 by MP (IPC) Dr. Th. Meinya at Pukhao Khabam Community Hall. The scheme is regarded as one that actualizes the dreams of Rural India. The basic activities under the scheme will be to enhance the entrepreneurial skills of the indigenous and innovative villagers.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) / Total Sanitation Campaign is another scheme which is implementing throughout the India under NDA Government with a target to make India an open-defecation-free Nation by the Gandhi Jayanti Divas of 2nd October 2019. In the village level, PRIs and Village Authority are amongst the implementing agencies that they will select the beneficiaries. Sanitary toilets are provided as an indispensable civic infrastructural item to all the beneficiary rural households. The scheme is a distinct step towards creating an atmosphere for healthy and hygienic lifestyle in the rural areas.

Case study on Wangoo Gram Panchayat, Bishnupur

Under the leadership of P. Baleshwor Singh, Pradhan, Wangoo Terakhong Gram Panchayat, of Bishnupur District, has taken up many developmental programs under state and central sponsor schemes viz, MGNREGS, 14 Finance Commission, State Finance Commission, IWMP etc. The GP have 1995 members of household, 1413 members of household have their own land while 582 household are landless. Most of the people are farmers and labourers.

The GP has 1856 nos. of Job card holders under MGNREGA. There is shortage of drinking water in the GP that 220 nos. of household gets drinking water from 3 numbers of public hydrant located in the GP and others remaining households gets drinking water from 13 nos. of hand pumps 9 nos. of ponds and 1 nos. of spring water tank constructed by the Panchayat and other departments under 14 Finance Commission and state finance commission.

It is known to all that MGNREGS is targeting to provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment to any rural household but in implementation it is very tough to fulfil the target in the sense that so far during 2017-18 period the authority provides only 13 days which is 7 days from GP; 4 days from ZP and 2 days from Line Department. For the poverty alleviation of the villagers, the Gram Panchayat also took initiative to construct Houses in this Wangoo GP area under PMAY (G) Pradhan Mantri Awaj Yojana – Gramin, (since March 2016 Indira Awaj Yojana was rename as PMAY).

So far 28 nos. of houses are completed out of 147 targeted. The beneficiaries are selected on the basis of Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC). Mention may be made that the scheme was launched in Manipur by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on 29 June 2017. That, 9740 housing units were targeted for the FY 2016-17 (backlog) in Manipur.

Financial assistance is released to the beneficiaries in their bank account in three instalments like 25:60:15 which are at the time of house sanction, completion of plinth level and completion of lintel level. They are also liable to get Rs. 12,000/- for (SBM/MGNREGS) construction of low cost latrine and another Rs. 19380 (existing @Rs. 204 Job Card holder per day under MGNREGS) for 95 days. As such each beneficiary is entitled to get Rs. 192760/- (Rs 161,380 +12000+19380). (Somarendro, 2018)

Need of the hour

In regard to the District planning committee - The district planning committees for the 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. Adequate infrastructure development and manpower support for the four District Planning Committees are still lacking and these need to be put in place to initiate the functioning of DPCs. It is recommended by a committee of three men that constituted for the smooth functioning of DPCs under the aegis of Prof. N. Mohendra Singh in 2014.

In regard to financial availability - 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 Panchayat and Zilla Parishads taxation within their Panchayat areas with the approval of the government. However the Punchayats do not have any income of their own and do not levy any taxes, fees, etc. at present.

As part of streamlining income generation by the PRIs, which has become a burning issue, the Director, Rural Development and Punchayati Raj, during 2014, submitted to the government a detailed proposal containing all the relevant facts, figures regarding income generation by the PRIs in the state but still yet to approve.

Findings

o Implementation of MNREGS is still problem in Manipur that the record finding in the field investigation confirm that most of the PRIs cannot provide 95 days of work to the job card holders.
o In particular to the Wangoo Terakhong GP, only 13 days are provided it is indeed very serious
o Beneficiaries can get direct benefit from the MGNREGS and PMAY while the state finance commission and 14 finance commission indirectly benefited to the villagers in the sense that different developmental programmes are undergoing through this SFC and 14 FC like watershed management, road construction, well and pond digging, repairing and construction of primary schools in deferent villages.

Conclusion An active Gram Sabha is a must for providing effective socio economic transformation in the rural areas of the State. The rural leaders and elected PRIs representatives will need to go all out to motivate their electorate-members to instil in them a firm sense of faith in the system of grass-roots democracy by way of ads, awareness generation with circulation of annual report of the Gram Panchayats showing income, expenditure and works taken-up during the year and even providing nominal remuneration to the participants as a token of acknowledgement for being present during the Sabha meetings.

For, without the participation of the general public / electorate members, the deliberation of the Sabhas will remain incomplete and disputes unresolved thereby dislocating the true texture of participatory democracy. The member, representative is needed to visit other developed states to make them familiar with the working of more dynamic and responsive Panchayates. It is opined that such activities would help in motivating and reinforcing the working of panchayats in the home state.


[Paper presented in the National Seminar on Issues and Challenges of Local self-government in Manipur orgd. by Centre for Manipur Studies, Manipur University (14-15 Dec 2018)]

Concluded....


* Amom Thoinu wrote this article which was published at Imphal Times
The writer is Asst. Prof. Department of Political Science at Kumbi College, Bishnupur District, Manipur
This article was webcasted on March 05, 2019.



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