Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Restore powers to local bodies

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The powers of grama panchayats in the state to decide on the location of bars and toddy shops in their regions must be restored. This is one of the recommendations that came up at the one-day workshop organised by the district wing of the Kerala Grama Panchayat Association here to formulate an approach paper on the powers which should be devolved to local bodies during the 12th Five Year Plan.

Many elected representatives of panchayats who participated in the workshop were of the opinion that the government must enact a piece of legislation to restore the powers which the local bodies once enjoyed.
One of the main suggestions during the discussions was on devolving funds to local governments on the basis of geographical status and regional development. The elected members were of the opinion that no parallel system which would compete with the power of the local bodies should be allowed. The solid waste management in local bodies must be streamlined. Alternative methods to combat plastic menace must be worked out. The field level officers in KWA and KSEB should come within the purview of the panchayats. The powers to decide on the honorarium to be given to sports teachers must be the prerogative of the panchayats. The local bodies must have the powers to decide on action to be taken against those found levelling culverts or damaging the drainage system.
Another suggestion was that the local governments must have the power to reform the tax rates in a time-bound manner. Many members expressed interest in emulating the ‘Haritha gramam’ project which was earlier successfully implemented by the Kudapannakunnu grama panchayat for promoting vegetable cultivation in terrace and backyards.
A review on the sales and exhibition of Kudumbasree products for the coming Onam-Ramzan season was also held at the function.
Earlier, inaugurating the function, Transport Minister V S Sivakumar said that the grama panchayats must strive to implement Centre-assisted projects in a time-bound manner. The 12th Five Year Plan must ensure eco-friendly projects aimed at promoting food security, Mayor K Chandrika said.
It was decided that a discussion on the same topic with the participation of blocks, municipalities and Corporations be held soon to evolve a general consensus on the approach paper.

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