Sunday, October 14, 2012

Guardian officers for panchayats

The East Midnapore administration has decided to appoint “guardian officers” for the district’s 223 gram panchayats to monitor central schemes and the performance of the rural bodies.
The guardian officers — those of the ranks of additional district magistrates, subdivisional officers, deputy magistrates and block development officers — will also guide panchayat employees on how to address problems and handle complaints of tardy implementation of schemes.
District magistrate (DM) Parwez Ahmed Siddiqui said he had last month visited several panchayat offices in 20 of East Midnapore’s 25 blocks. “I found that the employees were unable to solve problems. I also found that some panchayats were not implementing central schemes. As a result, the people are being deprived of facilities. So we decided to appoint guardian officers to monitor the performance of the panchayats. These officers will help the panchayats function better,” he said.
District officials said Siddiqui sent his subordinates to the panchayats that he could not visit.
Sources said there were complaints of tardy implementation of schemes against several panchayats.
Sixty officers have been appointed for the job. “Each officer will take the responsibility of at least four panchayats. The officers will have to visit the panchayats at least twice a month,” the DM said.
He said FIRs would be lodged against panchayats against whom there were complaints of corruption.
“We will lodge FIRs against some panchayats in order to take action against corrupt practices. The purpose behind appointing guardian officers is not to catch corruption but to prevent it. These officers will help the panchayats better their overall performance and ensure that the central schemes are properly implemented,” Siddiqui said.
Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee lauded the district administration’s initiative. “East Midnapore is the first district to take the step of appointing guardian officers. If the move becomes successful, other districts will follow the model,” he said.
The district officials said the guardian officers would start functioning by this month-end.
An official said the Bolluk-II gram panchayat performed poorly in providing work under the job-guarantee scheme because it failed to draw up road construction, pond-digging and social forestry projects. He said the Patashpur panchayat did not send the list of beneficiaries of the Indira Awaas Yojona to the block development officer on time.

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