Express News Service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The UDF is pushing back the Panchayat Raj system in the state, opined Dr George Mathew, Chairman of the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi. He was delivering the keynote address at a symposium ‘Power to the People; Panchayati Raj Today’ organised by the P Viswambharan Foundation here on Saturday.
Pointing to the trifurcation of the portfolio of the local self-government and rural development, Dr George Mathew said the move derailed the local government system in the state, which was a model for the world. He termed the move as an anti-people step and asked why there was no public protest or mass movement against it. “Congress leader and former Union Minister of Panchayat Raj Mani Shankar Aiyar told me that the trifurcation of the Local Self-Government portfolio in the state was a retrograde step,” he said.
Another major issue he pointed out against the UDF Government was its laxity in accepting the second part of the Fourth Finance Commission report submitted by economist M A Oommen. “The government accepted the first part which was about the devolution package for Local Self-Government institutions. The government is yet to approve the second report submitted in March. The report is about devolution of asset management and fiscal responsibilities to local governments, which would strengthen the local bodies,” he said.
Passing of the Kerala Industrial Single Window Clearance Boards and Industrial Township Area Development Act was against the 73rd amendment which calls for repealing Acts . He specifically pointed out the case of Aranmula Airport, where 500 acres of land, including acres of paddy fields, were acquired through the Act. “What role are the local self-governments playing against the move?” he asked. While MPs and MLAs were getting crores as funds, people’s representatives in local bodies were starving for funds, he said.