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Dehradun, 8 January 2021: Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla today inaugurated the Outreach and Familiarization Programme for Panchayati Raj Institutions on the theme ‘Panchayati Raj System: Strengthening Decentralised Democracy’ for District Panchayats of Uttarakhand's Panchayati Raj Institutions in Dehradun today. Chief Minister, Uttarakhand, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat; Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Shri Prem Chand Aggarwal; Panchayati Raj Minister, Government of Uttarakhand, Shri Arvind Pandey; and Secretary General, Lok Sabha, Shri Utpal Kumar Singh attended the inaugural session.
In his address on the occasion, Shri Birla said that India’s idea of democracy is very strong and has been in prevalence since Vedic period. After independence, there have been continuous efforts to make democracy strong, accountable and transparent. He said that the transfer of power after election results, whether it is in the Lok Sabha or our Vidhan Sabha’s, has always happened smoothly and in accordance with democratic traditions.
Shri Birla emphasized that Panchayati Raj Institutions are the strongest pillars of democracy. Their members are elected by the people, who have high expectations and aspirations from their representatives. He suggested that to make the Gram Sabha meetings more effective, some rules need to be developed, for instance, advance notice of meetings of Gram Sabha’s may be given to the people in the villages seven days, or as per necessity, in advance. Moreover, he suggested that a Gram Sabha should hold at least four meetings in a year and develop both, one-year short-term and 5-year long-term plans for development of the village.
Lok Sabha Speaker further remarked that in every gram panchayat, backward areas in villages which lack facilities, should be selected. Apart from this, decisions with respect to spending on important developmental works should be taken after extensive discussion regarding the utilization of funds. Shri Birla suggested that after every meeting, the progress made on the decisions taken therein should be reviewed in the next meeting. He emphasized upon the role of Gram Panchayats towards the promotion of rural tourism. He also suggested that the first hour of the regional Panchayat meeting should be on the lines of the Question Hour of the Parliament. Shri Birla emphasized that the Panchayats should share with each other the innovations they develop, so that they can be replicated in other Gram Panchayats as well.
He stressed that it is the responsibility of all democratic institutions, including the Panchayats, to control the executive functions and ensure their accountability. For this, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should be prepared in the whole country, which all democratic institutions of the country should emulate.
Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat said that Panchayats are today the fundamental units of democracy, which are playing an important role in economic development along with ushering in social justice. Especially, in the historical, mythological and environmentally and strategically important State like Devbhoomi Uttarakhand, they play an important role in providing development and ensuring public participation. Shri Rawat said that India is a strong democracy and its path of empowerment comes from Gram Panchayats. Therefore, we have to strengthen the economic conditions of the villages. Panchayats also have a special role in village development. He also suggested to the village heads in the border areas of Uttarakhand to meet the soldiers guarding our borders and boost their morale.
Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Prem Chand Aggarwal, said that we can make decentralized democracy very strong through the system of Panchayati Raj. He said that information and communication technology is being increasingly used in today's era. E-Vidhan Sabha is being implemented in all the legislatures of the country. Similarly, by using e-governance in the works of Panchayats, these institutions will gain more strength. He expressed confidence that in line with outreach programmes like this, legislatures may conduct capacity building programmes, management programs and training programs, which will develop diverse aspects of the Panchayati Raj system.
The Minister of Panchayati Raj of Uttarakhand, Shri Arvind Pandey said in his address that from Panchayat to Parliament, with respect to the people's representatives, the expectations and aspirations of the people are increasing. He urged to consider how to increase the participation of both the people and their representatives in the meetings of Gram Sabhas and Gram Panchayats so that the sessions can function in a restrained and orderly manner.
Tehri District Panchayat President, Ms. Sona Sajwan said that Panchayati Raj Institutions are playing an important role in achieving the values and aspirations mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution at the village level. For the development of Uttarakhand, especially its hilly areas, it is very important to empower Panchayats according to their strategic needs and for better disaster management.
Around 42000 participants from Panchayati Raj Institutions of Uttarakhand participated in the program and shared their views.