Effective local bodies can counter Maoist threat: PM


New Delhi: Effective functioning of panchayati raj institutions in remote and backward areas of the country will help deal with problems like Maoism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Saturday.

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“We should see that panchayati raj institutions work effectively in remote and backward areas including lands inhabited by the tribals. This will help deal with problems like Maoism,” he said in his address at the Panchayati Raj Diwas function here.

He said the government was aware of the problems faced by panchayats and was keen to ensure “funds, functions and functionaries” for them.

Panchayats not only enable the marginalised sections to take part in the democratic decision-making process but also ensure transparency and accountability in government functioning, he said, adding: “Special emphasis has been laid on schemes relating to panchayati raj institutions in the 11th (Five Year) Plan.”

The prime minister said that the 73rd amendment of the constitution came into effect on April 24, 1993 to provide for democratic governance in local bodies at three levels. “This amendment has enabled decentralisation at the lowest level.”

He said that power equations in villages had changed as a result of the 73rd amendment and it had helped in the empowerment of the poor.

“Over 28 lakh people have been formally included in the country’s democratic system through nearly 600 district panchayats, 6,000 intermediate panchayats and 230,000 gram panchayats,” he said.

Pointing out that number of women elected to the panchayat bodies was more than the 33 percent reservation provided for them, he said their number was set to rise further with the proposed 50 percent reservation for them in the local bodies.

The prime minister said that panchayats had been given a share in taxes and the move will help them emerge as units of self-governance in the real sense.

Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister C.P. Joshi also addressed the function.