The Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday decided to disqualify any elected representative of gram panchayats, mandal parishad territorial constituencies and zilla parishad territorial constituencies if they are found to be involved in corruption or other malpractices.
Local body elections are likely to be held next month in the state.
Sources in the government said that the Cabinet on Wednesday recommended amendments to the Panchayati Raj Act to increase the punishment for corruption by elected representatives of local bodies to 3 years and a fine of Rs 10,000, if found guilty.
To curb electoral malpractices during local body elections, the government has also decided to reduce the duration between the notification and election date to 15 days.
Another key decision taken at the Cabinet meeting was to reserve 100 per cent seats of sarpanches and ward members in notified areas for members of the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
This is being done to empower STs, Information and Public Relations Minister P Venkataramaiah told The Indian Express.
With regard to the powers of the sarpanches, the Cabinet also decided to entrust them with the responsibility of taking up sanitation and green development in their respective villages. The sarpanches will also be empowered to take independent decisions in times of calamities and natural disasters. All the decisions taken in the case of the panchayat, would also be applicable to the municipalities, the minister said.
At the meeting, the Cabinet decided to amend the Municipal Corporation Act and to bring an ordinance in this regard. While the election procedure for municipalities ran over 24 days, it will be reduced to 15 days now.
The minister added that the Cabinet also decided to set up the Andhra Pradesh Green Energy Corporation Limited (APGECL) for providing free power for nine hours in the day time to the agricultural sector, through solar power projects with a capacity of 10,000 MW. Power would be given free of cost to farmers, and at a subsidy to aqua farmers.
The Central Non-conventional Energy Resources Ministry provides financial assistance of Rs 20 lakh per MW. This facility would be utilised for the establishment of solar power projects across the state, Venkataramaiah said.
The state is also planning to invest Rs 35,000-40,000 crore for setting up the solar plants and to generate power. “We hope to get about 45 million units of power for our state’s growing requirements, particularly the agriculture sector. The state is spending Rs 8,300 crore on supplying power free of cost to the farm sector while another Rs 1,500 crore is extended as subsidy to lift irrigation schemes,” the minister said.
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