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Panchayati Raj Institutions yet to get act together in Haryana

Irregularities in account keeping,non-functioning of women sarpanches,laxity on part of BDOs and lack of accountability for any misuse of power or funds by the sarpanches.

Written by Rajendra Khatry | Mehda (bhiwani) |
March 4, 2009 5:11:33 am

Irregularities in account keeping,non-functioning of women sarpanches,laxity on part of BDOs and lack of accountability for any misuse of power or funds by the sarpanches. Despite tall claims by the Haryana government,the general functioning of the panchayati raj institutions in the state leaves much to be desired. There is laxity on the part of government officials,as well as panchayats,in holding gram sabha meetings on schedule despite awareness campaigns carried out in the past,both by the NGOs and the government. What’s worse,no one is held responsible for any dereliction in duty.

However,whenever a determined group of villagers take a firm stand to fire a probing question to the sarpanch on the alleged misuse or irregularity in the panchayat fund,the sarpanch as well as the BDOs usually disappear from the scene. Like it happened the other day at Mehda village in Charkhi Dadri Block II tehsil of Bhiwani district.

A visit to the Mehda village exposed the lack of coordination and poor functioning of the panchayats and the BDOs as far as timely holding of the gram sabha meetings are concerned. The gram sabha meeting scheduled on February 27 was cancelled at the last moment in absence of the sarpanch.

Residents of Mehda village,who had earlier submitted a set of probing questions with regard to irregularity in the panchayat budget against sarpanch Manjit Kaur to the office of the BDO,waited in vain since morning for the gram sabha meeting where the social audit was scheduled to take place. Incidentally,it was going to be the first time that the gram sabha meeting was going to take place in the Mehda village. When for many hours the sarpanch did not turn up,the desperate villagers called up the BDO in Dadri,who first said he was coming for the meeting,but later said the meeting had been cancelled as the sarpanch had reported sick.

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A group of angry villagers then marched to the office of the BDO Chabil Das,who said he had been informed about the sickness of the sarpanch only in the afternoon. However,talking to The Indian Express,advocate Surender Singh,husband of the sarpanch,claimed that four days back an application had been given to the BDO about the poor health of the sarpanch.

When the matter was reported to the Bhiwani DC,Vikas Gupta,he immediately asked the SDM to probe the matter and hold the gram sabha meeting after fixing a date. Gupta said there is a provision in the Panchayati Raj Act that when a sarpanch is unable to attend a meeting,another panch can chair the meeting,but this was not done at Mehda village

Talking to The Indian Express,Ram Mehar,a resident of Mehda village,said though under the PRI it was compulsory to hold gram sabha meetings regularly,such a meeting had never been held in their village so far.

Talking to The Indian Express,Ajit Tomar,president of Nagrik Abhiyan Morcha,a Mahendergarh-based NGO,said he,along with other NGOs such as Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Sanjha Kadam,has been carrying on an awareness campaign among the villagers in the state on the usefulness of the gram sabhas,but the government officials were yet to take the issue seriously.

State coordinator of NGO PRIA Krishan Tyagi said their experience in the last few years in the villages of Haryana was that in many villages where the sarpanches or the BDOs and the village secretaries did not want to face the disturbing queries of the villagers,they usually avoided holding the gram sabha meetings.

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