Dehradun: In a major boost to the village panchayats, which is the lowest rung of the three-tier Panchayati Raj system, the Uttarakhand government on Wednesday received a sanction of Rs 2,000 crore from the Centre for developing infrastructure in over 10,000 villages.

The funds, sanctioned by the Union Panchayati Raj Ministry, will be handed over to 8,000 gram panchayats, under whose jurisdiction the 10,000 villages fall, to construct motorable roads, pedestrian tracks, bridges and commission drinking water and power projects within a stipulated time in the villages.

The decision was taken at a meeting of top central and state officials held here at the secretariat. Secretary in Union Panchayati Raj Ministry Vijayanand and state chief secretary N Ravi Shankar, were among the top officials who attended the meeting.

Secretary in Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj department Vinod Fonia told reporters that the amount will be given to the state government over a period of five years, with an initial tranche of Rs 200 crore being released within the next 10 days. One of the key projects to be undertaken is the improvement of cremation facilities in villages.

Fonia added that after getting Rs 200 crore for the purpose, the Congress government will prepare a detailed master plan to equip these villages with infrastructural facilities. He said as per the central government norms, these panchayat bodies will be entitled to directly receive the sanctioned amount allocated for the purpose.

Nevertheless, the amount will pass through the state government to these village bodies to prevent any problem. "The sole objective of the exercise is to ensure that 100% amount allocated for enhancing infrastructural facilities, are used exclusively for the purpose and not even a single penny is diverted for other works," said Fonia.

The gram panchayat functions at the village level, while panchayat samities work at the block level and zila parishad functions at the district level.

The decision comes about three months after the Narendra Modi government virtually discontinued funding in eight centrally-sponsored schemes, including Backward Region Grant Funds (BRF) and Rajiv Gandhi Pachayat Sasaktikaran Yojna (RGPSY), and changed funding pattern from 90:10 to 50:50 in about 24 centrally sponsored schemes. These developments occurred after Niti Ayog replaced Planning Commission about six months ago.

Courtesy: Times Of India

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