panchayat sashaktikaran abhiyan, village gathering, village policy making, village in india

Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan

By: Staff Reporter
The centrally sponsored scheme launched in March 2013 to strengthen the panchayati raj system across the country addresses critical gaps that constrain it. It aims to break the cycle of low capacity and lack of devolution, which lead to disempowerment of the panchayat in several states, by a strong multi-pronged intervention.

The Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA) aims to enhance the capacities and effectiveness of the panchayat and gram sabha. It will enable democratic decision-making, enhance accountability and promote people’s participation apart from strengthening the institutional structure for knowledge creation in the panchayat. The scheme promotes devolution, aims to strengthen the gram sabha in Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) areas, while creating and strengthening democratic local self-government in areas where the panchayat does not exist. It aims to strengthen the framework on which the panchayat is founded. So far, the Central Executive Committee (CEC) has approved activities related to technical and administrative support; construction and repair of panchayat buildings; capacity building and training; institutional structure at state/district and block level; and e-enablement of the panchayat. The cost sharing between the Centre and state is 75:25 in most states except the north-eastern states, where it is 90:10. As far as the disbursement is concerned, of the Rs. 655 crore available for RGPSA in 2013-2014, 483 crore has been distributed. During 2013-14, roadmaps by 21 states have been approved. Plans of another 5 states are under consideration.

The states need to comply with certain essential conditions to avail funds. These are—regular elections to the panchayat or local bodies under the superintendence and control of the state election commission (SEC), at least one third reservation for women in the panchayat system or other local bodies, constitution of the state finance commission (SFC) every five years, presentation of the action taken report in the state legislature on the recommendations of the SFC, constitution of district planning committees (DPC) in all districts, and issuance of guidelines/rules to make DPCs functional.

In a new and innovative move, 20 per cent RGPSA funds will be linked to performance, which will be assessed regularly from 2014-15. The performance will be judged by parameters such as articulating an appropriate policy framework for providing administrative and technical support to the panchayat; strengthening the financial base of the panchayat by assigning appropriate taxes, fees, etc.; provision of untied funds to the panchayat and timely release of SFC and Central Finance Commission (CFC) grants; ensuring devolution of funds, functions and functionaries; preparing and operationalising a framework for bottom-up grass root planning and convergence through the DPCs; promoting the mahila sabha and more.

The RGPSA provides funds for building the capacities of the panchayat. Activities like recruitment of administrative and technical support at the panchayat level; capacity building and training for elected representatives and panchayat functionaries; strengthening of institutional structure for training, including setting up state panchayat resource centres and district panchayat resource centres; e-enablement including provision of computers to the village level functionaries and training; funding of panchayat processes such as gram sabha meetings, planning etc. for panchayat with weak resource base etc. can be carried out.

Inputs from the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India.

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