Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Speakers panel not related to Panchayats

The mandate of the Committee of Legislators constituted by the Speaker is only to discuss protocol and perks of legislators and it has nothing to do whatsoever with the transfer of powers to Panchayats.

This was stated by a government spokesman today setting at rest speculations which formed the basis of some news reports as well that the high level panel set up by the Speaker would also settle the issue of transfer of power to Panchayats.

The constitution of panel had created apprehensions in the minds of those votaries for complete empowerment of Panchayats that the draft to be prepared would aim at curbing the powers of Panchayats and ensure the dominating role to the legislators in the power conflict which has emerged after the Panchayat elections.

A spokesman of the government said that all misgivings and canards in this connection were spread by vested interests. He stated that the powers of Panchayats were enshrined in the Panchayat Raj Act and administrative orders issued from time to time in this regard and added that the government stands committed to a strong and empowered Panchayat Raj system in the state. He further asserted that no effort would ever be allowed from any quarter to dilute these powers.

The government spokesman reiterated the government’s firm commitment for a powerful Panchayat Raj and tried to dispel, what it was chosen to describe as, “all efforts to create confusion by some quarters on one or the other pretext” and described them as baseless.

“The government is committed to transfer of powers to Panchayats to make these powerful units of governance at the grass root level,” the spokesman said reiterating that the Committee constituted by the Speaker would have no role whatsoever in the transfer of powers to the Panchayats.
The spokesman said that Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah had already set in motion the process of transfer of powers to the Panchayats and till now more than fifty services of fourteen departments had been transferred to the Panchayats besides granting Rs 1.00 lakh to each Panchayat to carry out works in their Panchayat Halqas.

Notably the Speaker has constituted a joint committee of both Houses of the Legislature to prepare a draft for the legislation to identify powers of the MLAs. The panel is headed by senior National Conference leader Chowdhary Mohammed Ramzan.

The panel, also comprising MLAs Harsh Dev Singh, G M Saroori, Abdul Majeed Wani, Abdul Gaffar Sofi, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat and MLCs Ravinder Sharma and Ajay Sadhotra, will submit its report before the budget session so that the government could consider it.

The panel after its constitution met for the second time today and deliberated the issue. Given the lack of consensus on certain issues, the participants felt the need to deliberate them further. The next meeting of panel has been scheduled on February 2.

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