Parched Panchayati Raj Ministry on verge of closure
Parched Panchayati Raj Ministry on verge of closure [Polity]
After facing a massive budget cut last year, the future of the Panchayati Raj Ministry continues to look bleak as the government shuttered two of its key programmes — the Backward Regions Grants Fund (BRGF) and the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA).
RGPSA will be renamed as Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA). This year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allotted Rs. 655 crores to RGSA.
In view of the budget cuts, the Ministry recently “realigned” its mandate from financing panchayats to capacity-building and training.
In the UPA-I and UPA-II regimes, since the Ministry was well-funded with BRGF and Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan schemes, it was able to address district-wise inequality, pumping money into the panchayats of the backward ones, helping them build panchayat ghars (offices) and training the functionaries in drafting annual plans to increase their upward mobility.
The government refuses to acknowledge that there are 58,000 gram panchayats across the country without permanent office facilities.