Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu on September 23, released the basic grant for this year to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) amounting to Rs 79.21 crores.
The amount accounts for 70 percent of the basic grant to state PRIs while the rest of 30 percent will be performance-based and will be released subsequently after a review of the performances of the PRIs in their respective jurisdictions.
Handing over the demand draft to the concerned department at a function held by All Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Parishad (AAPPRP) as ‘thanksgiving’ to the state government, Khandu informed that the grant amount is from state-owned resource tax revenue.
“Instead of looking for help from the Centre for each and everything, we have allocated Rs 123 crore from our internal resources to PRIs for this year and this is the basic grant we are releasing today,” he informed.
Stating that as per the 73rd Constitutional amendment, the state government has decided to devolve power to PRIs on 29 subjects, Khandu called upon PRIs to work with more vigor and energy to take development in rural pockets of Arunachal Pradesh to a new height.
He further said that besides the grants from state-owned resources, PRIs will be funded with provisions under the 14th Finance Commission as well as the 15th Finance Commission.
He also revealed that Rs 200 Crore has already been released under the 15th Finance Commission for PRIs and the balance of Rs 800 Crore will be released by the Commission spread over the next five years provided utilization certificates are submitted as required and on time.
Khandu observed that guided by the Sustainable, Participative, Inclusive, Comprehensive, and Empowerment (SPICE) module, PRIs must be able to successfully function as institutions of self-government and accelerate development at the grass root levels.
“There is no dearth of funds. What we lack is coordinated and synchronized efforts,” he said and urged all stakeholders – local MLA, PRIs, the district administration, and concerned departments – to coordinate with each other in the implementation of developmental projects at the panchayat levels.
He emphasized on ‘convergence’ of different schemes and programs for the overall development of rural areas.
“We are committed to empowering PRIs with the 3 Fs – functions, functionaries, and funds,” he added.
Asserting that officials in the districts have a big role to play, Khandu urged them to go the extra mile in assisting and guiding PRI members to avail government schemes for the development of the villages.
He also requested Zilla Parishad Chairpersons (ZPCs) to periodically review projects in their respective districts with PRI members and officials concerned and advised them to personally visit work sites and keep themselves updated with each and every project.
The Chief Minister lauded that out of total of 241 ZPMs, 90 are women while of the 25 ZPCs, 13 are women.
“Role of women in development at the grass root level is significant. With such a huge presence in the PRI, there’s no doubt that our villages and villagers are in good hands. I hope this is replicated in the coming assembly elections and we witness a significant increase in women legislators in our Assembly,” Khandu said.
He insisted that Arunachal Pradesh has done wonders in the last few years in terms of generating revenue from its own resources.
“When I took over as chief minister in 2016 the annual state budget was 12,553 Crore. Compare it with this year’s budget of Rs 26,111 Crore, which is almost three times that of 2016. This proves that we can generate revenue from our own resources if we have that political will,” Khandu revealed.
He also pointed out that revenue generation would further increase in coming years with the completion of major hydropower projects like the Subansiri Lower and Dibang, boost in tourism and agriculture and allied sectors following the boost in state’s connectivity vis a vis road, air, rail, and digital connectivity.
“The more we generate revenue the more we can invest in developmental projects,” he added.
Panchayati Raj Minister Bamang Felix, in his deliberation, expressed confidence in the dedication of the PRIs towards transforming rural Arunachal into self-sustainable.
In regard to the release of 70 percent of the State Own Resource grant to the 25 Zilla Parishads, Felix advised that the funds should be utilized with accountability strictly adhering to SOPs.
He also urged the PRIs to work as a team and add to the state revenue by proper utilization of the state grant, adding, ''This, in turn, will create a larger pool of funds for the PRIs to uplift rural Arunachal''.
Assuring that the state government is committed to empowering PRIs, Felix added that in response to their dedication and efficiency in the coming months, the state government may dedicate a financial year as a year of rural-Arunachal.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister launched the SPICE manual and a Handbook of SOPs for use of PRI members.
The function was also attended by Deputy Speaker Tesam Pongte, several MLAs, All Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Parishad president ZPC Biri Shanti, and members and officials of the Panchayati Raj and Rural Development department.
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