Unavailability of ‘rule book’ hampering functioning of many panchayats

Several panchayat members and Zilla Panchayat members in the state and newly elected panchas in south Goa are being compelled to function without the all-important ‘rule book’ – the Goa Panchayati Raj Act, as the government has failed to print copies of it and make them available since the last two years.
Goa has around 182 panchayats comprising of nearly 1,600 panchas and 45-odd Zilla Panchayat members.
The unavailability of this important rule book for two long years has been hampering the smooth functioning of many panchayats in the state. The absence of the book has also been confusing many newcomers, who were elected to the grassroots-level bodies a year ago.
“I don’t have a copy of the Goa Panchayati Raj Act despite being a sarpanch now. I personally tried to purchase a copy but since the last one year, I have been unable to get it. I really don’t know the reasons for this shortage,” said Curtorim sarpanch Rupesh Naik. He said that the training that is being provided to the members through the Goa institute of public administration and rural development (GIPARD) makes no sense in the absence of the all-important rule book or guide.
According to sarpanch of Aquem Baixo panchayat Siddesh Bhagat, at times he is embarrassed when villagers question him on the Goa Panchayati Raj Act and ask him to display the book. “I made attempts to purchase a copy but it’s not available,” he said.
The Goa government’s printing press does not have copies of the Goa Panchayati Raj Act.
“If the government cannot make such an important rule book available even after one year of the election, what can we expect from this government? I tried to purchase it on three occasions and each time I received negative response. I don’t know why the government is not serious about
it,” reacted a panch member of the Paroda panchayat.
While the angry panchas and Zilla Panchayat members feel it has been a deliberate attempt to subordinate the panchayats to the government, director of Panchayats Ajit Panchwadkar rejected the allegation saying that the process to make the rule book available will be completed in the next 15 days and copies of the book will be made available to all the panchas in Goa free of cost. “I will give free copies to each of the panchayat members,” he said.
Sources in the government printing press, however, said that even if the first two proofreadings of the new edition are completed, the printing press may require over a fortnight to print the copies. “If the proofreading process is completed today, we will require next 15 days to print the copies,” said director of the Goa government printing press Damodar Shanke.

Source:: The Navhind Times

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