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 not helpful 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.
We have an Assembly that we call the rampart of sovereignty in the State. Once elected to represent the people in this rampart, the MLAs try to dazzle like the former kings and they never again go to the Gram Panchayats, never participate in the debates, if at all any, raised by ward members, never make any report on working of the Panchayats in their respective constituencies, never guide them in collective conduct in village development and never place the real picture of the Panchayats in the Assembly for evolution of proper law to make the Panchayats succeed.
Orissa Assembly being the greatest place of democratic practice in the State should have developed the political environment where Panchayats should have found in it their most perfect guide and the leaderly collaboration of MLAs and Panchayat Ward Members could haave made our State a Paradise of democratic living in prosperity. The Assembly has never addressed itself to interact with the Panchayat leaders excepting making provisions for them, which they seldom understand.
At this juncture, it is worth noting that, a wrongful act of Biju Patnaik, who, incidentally, made a section of Press project him as an architect of Panchayati Raj in collaboration with Balwantrai G Mehta, in a very illegal manner,had made the Legislative Assembly of Orissa accept English as the official language in 1963, as a result of which, it has almost lost its emotional oneness with the people and the Panchayats. When no less than 95% of rural population of Orissa do not have any literacy in English, the Assembly, dominated by fellows posing elite, has been functioning in English and making laws in English only, even though the provision inserted by the amendment had said that this would be “in addition to Oriya” (Sec.3-A of Orissa Official Language Act,1954). And, as apprehended,instead of becoming an additional language, English has become the principal language “for transaction of business in the Legislature of the State of Orissa.” The Bills are being prepared in English, presented in English and passed in English! Even the Committee Reports are being prepared in English, thanks to the Speakers, who, one after one in succession, fail to appreciate the stipulation in 3-A that, it is Oriya in which the transactions of Assembly business “shall” have to be made primarily; and English “may” be used thereafter “in addition to” Oriya !”
This blatant failure to keep English out of primacy in transaction of its business, has reduced the Orissa Assembly to such a state that it has no harmony with the dreams and doings of the people, even though it is constituted with the representatives of the people.
In the circumstances, fellows, kept ignorant by the lawmakers, leading the Panchayats, with more power, will bring in further anarchy in self-governance in the rural sector.
Please take note of it.