For a change and with Assembly in recess, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was on Tuesday not found hopping in plane in search of a rainbow vote-bank for the 2014 polls. It was the 13th year of ‘BJD Raj’ and also time for more sops.
So, after covering almost every section in the voters’ list from young students to women in the past months, Naveen had something up his sleeve for the panchayat office-bearers as well. Incidentally, March 5, which happens to be Biju Patnaik’s birthday, is also celebrated as Panchayati Raj Day.
Continuing his sop-announcement spree, Naveen increased the honorarium and sitting fee of elected panchayat representatives. Announcing the decision at a function to celebrate the Panchayati Raj Day, he said Government has made a provision of Rs 50 cr for it. All the elected panchayat representatives, including presidents of zilla parishads, members of ZPs and panchayat samitis, chairpersons, sarpanches and ward members of panchayat samitis attended the function.
While the honorarium of the ZP president has been hiked from Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 per month, a sarpanch will now get Rs 1,500, up from Rs 1,000. The honorarium of panchayat samiti chairperson has been enhanced from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500. Reiterating the State Government’s commitment to provide ‘bijli, sadak and pani’ to all villages, the Chief Minister said steps have been taken to make pipe water available in all panchayats.
Besides, Rs 1,800 crore will be spent for construction of concrete roads in all villages during the next three years. Each panchayat will be provided Rs 10 lakh for this during the year, he said. Stating that the panchayat representatives have a key role to play in implementation of welfare schemes of the State Government, Naveen said Rs 5 lakh has been earmarked for each ZP zone for taking up development works. A provision of Rs 46 crore has been made in 2013-14 for it. Naveen said 87 lakh work proposals have reached the State Government from gram sabhas and palli sabhas. Work orders will be issued in April-May to expedite implementation of these projects. He also announced that steps have been initiated to fill up 1,361 vacant posts of gram sevaks.
Besides, vacancies in other posts will also be filled up, he said and advised the panchayat representatives to ensure proper implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The Chief Minister also launched the emergency ambulance service for rural areas. In the first phase, 15 districts will be provided with 280 ambulances.
Panchayati Raj Minister Kalpataru Das said office buildings will be provided for elected panchayat representatives to hear grievances of people. Among others, Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya, Health Minister Damodar Rout, Rural Development Minister Bikram Arukh, Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patro, Women and Child Development Minister Usha Devi and SC/ST Development Minister Lalbihari Himirika were present.