POWER TO PANCHAYATS: A PATH TO ANARCHY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Even as 237 Blocs out of 314 in the State are marked for embezzlement of funds
and the rest for other malfeasances, the Government agrees with the Opposition to vest
such controlling powers in the Panchayats that the elected leaders in the grassroots can
effectively intervene when bureaucracy resorts to such practices in future.

We had earlier reported that Orissa Legislative Assembly was assured that for
decentralization of power, present practice of executing various panchayat level
programmes through government servants shall stop. Execution of programs under
control of government officers in the grass root is the main cause of decline in mass
involvement in the schemes, the House was told. And the entire Assembly was one in
observing that unless the Panchayat leaders are lifted to the status of political executives
with appropriate powers to take disciplinary actions against erring officials within their
jurisdiction, the system shall not change for the better.

We have information that schemes generated in various departments, with
departmental tags, are going to the Panchayats very soon. In other words, officers
belonging to various departments working in rural areas are going to be placed under
control of and answerable to the Panchayat leaders. In our opinion, this would enhance
administrative anarchy and nothing else.

The massive embezzlement of public funds in Panchayats as noted above has a
direct link with unscrupulous fellows having grabbed the Panchayat leadership. Most of
these leaders are petty contractors or control dealers. Shortly, village touts. Handing over
administration and its official executives to them shall certainly harm their morale
besides opening up unrestrained channels to swindle away project money.

It is sad that the State is not thinking of the impact of over saturation of leaders.
Beginning from Members of Gram Panchayats to Panchayat Samitis to Zilla Parisads
and from Panchayat Sarpach to Panchayat Samiti Charman to President of Zilla Parisad,
the Panchayatiraj system has given birth to lakhs of leaders in the rural sector. All of
them are rival to each other. And that is ruining rural peace.

As over population is not helpful to a country, over saturation of rural leadership
is causing harm to our body politic.

When we are yet to find out a way to tackle this menace, handing over further
power to Panchayats would no doubt open up many new paths to administrative anarchy.

Please take note of it.

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