By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 24 Jul: Panchayati Raj, PWD, Tourism, Irrigation and Religious Affairs Minister Satpal Maharaj said today that, in pursuance of the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Panchayati Raj Minister Giriraj Singh, the Uttarakhand Government led by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami is also fully committed to empowering the Panchayats and making them self reliant.
Maharaj was addressing a press conference at a local hotel here today.
Satpal Maharaj said that, on the occasion of Amrit Mahotsav of Azadi, at the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Panchayati Raj Minister Giriraj Singh, continuous efforts are being made to empower the Panchayats in the state. Under the leadership of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, the state government is determined to make the Panchayats of the state self-reliant in all important areas such as poverty eradication, self-reliance, ensuring health facilities and use of technology to achieve sustainable development goals.
Maharaj disclosed that he had requested Union Minister Giriraj Singh to give the requisite funds to run various schemes in the Panchayats. Accepting the request, the Centre had sanctioned and released an amount of Rs 135 crores to Uttarakhand under RGSA, for the year 2022-23.
Maharaj said that it has been planned to train the three-tier Panchayat officials and personnel with funds that have been sanctioned for the state under the “Gram Swaraj Abhiyan” (RGSA), which is a central scheme of the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj. Apart from training, fulfillment of 9 targets on sustainable development of Gram Panchayats along with capacity building and exposure visits, a total of 95 compactors at the rate of 1 compactor per block for 95 development blocks of the state, 1 parking for each district panchayat, 200 panchayat buildings, would also be undertaken. In addition, provision had also been made for computerisation of 500 gram panchayats, as well as for construction of additional rooms in 100 panchayat buildings across the state for the current year.
Maharaj said that Uttarakhand is a tourist state and, therefore, it is necessary to make it clean and plastic free. Towards achieving this goal, approval has also been given for one vacuum-based cleaning machine in each district of the state for sanitation. In the action plan for the year 2022-23 under RGSA, provision has also been made to provide faculty for the already constructed State, District and Block Level Panchayat Resource Centres to provide training. The Panchayat Bhawans would be built keeping Pahari architecture in mind. He reminded that, in Haridwar, the hotel and guest house constructed by Yogi Government of Uttar Pradesh had also been constructed in Pahari style.
The Panchayat Minister added that District Panchayat Presidents, Vice Presidents and Block Panchayat Heads would be allowed to stay in all government guest houses at concessional charges. This concession was being allowed to them at their request. The Panchayati Raj Department would also issue Secretariat Entry passes to all the district panchayat presidents, vice-presidents and heads, also. Talks would be also be held with the Finance Department to issue orders on raising the honorarium for the District Panchayat Presidents, Vice Presidents, Pramukhs and others as had been promised by the CM.
The Panchayat Minister also said that a clear guideline would be issued to set aside 10 percent of the total administrative expenditure of the department for maintaining the offices of the district panchayat presidents and other elected panchayat office bearers including 100 litres of petrol, diesel and other expenses. He also said that honorarium would also be given to the members of the Kshetra Panchayats and, for this, talks would be held with the Finance Department soon.
Maharaj also stated that he had called on Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and urged him to pursue with Nepal the proposed Pancheshwar Hydropower Project which would generate 5040 MW of power once it becomes a reality. It would also become a popular tourist destination. Approval had been granted by the Centre for the Rs 2584 crore Jamrani Dam Project which would ease the crisis of drinking water in Haldwani and also provide irrigation water to Uttar Pradesh, and for the Rs 2000 crores Song River Dam Project in Dehradun. Efforts are underway to optimise hydropower generation in the hills. Directions had been given to the officials to use recycled materials and plastic in construction of roads. Additional Secretary Bansidhar Tiwari was also present on the occasion.