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Over the past few decades, there have been significant developments in the devolution of powers to Gram Panchayats (GPs). The preparation of the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) was institutionalised during the Financial Year 2015-16. Recently, more than 95% of GPs (2.56 lakh of the total 2.69 lakh GPs) participated in the planning process and uploaded their plans on eGramSwaraj portal.
About Gram Panchayat Development Plan
The 73rd Constitutional Amendment created a formal three-tier structure of decentralised local governance for rural India. It also provided a special emphasis on the inclusion of women, SCs, STs, and other marginalised communities.
Article 243G of the Indian Constitution mandates economic development and social justice through an inclusive, community-driven, and holistic planning process of the Panchayat System (GPDP), thereby evolving into institutions of local self-governance.
GPDP process facilitates decentralised planning by the community members of the village. The GPDP planning process should be comprehensive and participatory by involving full convergence with the schemes of all related Central Ministries / Line Departments.
How funding is done for the implementation of GPDP?
The sectoral fund allocation for GPDP is limited to a few areas where core funding is provided either from Central or State Finance Commission Funds and Schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
Evolution of GPDPs and planning process
Successive Finance Commissions have recommended large distribution of funds to Gram Panchayats. So, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has made the preparation of GPDP a mandatory activity by Gram Panchayats (GPs).
The Ministry had framed Model GPDP Guidelines in 2015. Subsequently, the new restructured comprehensive GPDP Guidelines were released in 2018. Along with the new guidelines, special emphasis was given to GPDP by rolling out the People’s Plan Campaign for greater emphasis on the preparation of the plan.
|Read more: Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikas campaign for inclusive and holistic preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plan(GPDP)|
Objectives of Gram Panchayat Development Plan
-Ensuring integrated and inclusive development of the rural areas. This not only includes infrastructure oriented development but also social, economic, and community development;
-To enable and engage the community in participatory planning and decision-making processes;
– To ensure identification of locally available resources and addressing local needs through participatory planning and convergence;
-To ensure the inclusion and welfare of SCs, STs, OBCs, women and others in the formulation and implementation of the GPDP to ensure the provision of basic social goods and life of dignity;
-Ensure efficacy and efficiency in public service delivery in local areas;
-Strengthening accountability measures at the local level.
How is the government improving the GPDP?
Untied grants from Fifteenth Finance Commission: The commission has recommended 40% of the grant as untied grants and the remaining 60% as tied grants. Regarding Tied Grants, 30% of the total grants be utilised for drinking water, rainwater harvesting and water recycling. Untied grants can be used for felt needs under the 29 subjects enlisted in the XI Schedule, except for salaries and other establishment costs.
People’s Plan Campaign: Since 2018, the GPDP preparation has been taken up in a mission mode through the People’s Plan Campaign (Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas) annually across the country.
|Read more: Union Minister Shri Giriraj Singh launches People’s Plan Campaign 2021 and Vibrant Gram Sabha Dashboard|
Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan: The scheme was launched by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The scheme lay great emphasis on Capacity Building and training of Elected Representatives (ERs) and other stakeholders. In the last three years, it has trained 110 lakh ERs and stakeholders.
PRI-SHG convergence: Ministry of Panchayati Raj initiated this convergence to promote community engagement to frame a more sustainable and inclusive GPDP. A special provision for integrating poverty reduction plans into GPDP has also been initiated.
Case Study: Ibrahimpur, Telangana
Ibrahimpur village is a great example of a participatory governance model. The village conducted Gram Sabha meetings regularly where citizens discuss their needs and ways to address challenges. Based on their participatory planning, they provide,
1. Excellent delivery of services like safe drinking water with minimum charges, 2. 100% sanitation facility, 3. Effective water conservation, 4. Provision of Organic manure, 5. Mosquito-free village, 6. Solar lights for village households, 7. Banned the single-use of plastics, 7. Installed an ‘Any Time Water Machine’, which allows locals to fill up 20-litre cans at least two to three times a day.
On the social front, the village achieved, 1. 100 per cent enrolment of children
For its efforts, the village has won several awards including Nirmal Puraskar Award and Best Gram Panchayat Award for the development activities over the last few years.
What needs to be done?
Converge resources: Allocation in the areas of road construction, water, and sanitation is comparatively higher in percentage to other sectors. Further, Several government departments implement developmental programmes at the GP level, but often the programmes are run by individual departments, so there may be duplication of efforts. It clearly shows that there is a greater need for Gram Panchayats to converge resources available from other schemes.
Integrated planning: The guidelines of all the Centrally Sponsored Schemes are implemented at the GP level such as MGNREGA, DAY-NRLM, SBM(G), POSHAN, etc. This insists preparation of plans with a holistic view. So, all plans of the line departments including the labour budget should emanate from GPDP.
Such an integrated plan will help 1. To absorb more funds from different sectors; 2. Increase local resource mobilisation; 3. Facilitate improvement of service delivery; 4. Avoid duplication; 5. Reduce the financial burden; and 6. Accelerate the achievement of desired results.
Shift the focus from ‘GPDP numbers to ‘GPDP quality’: More than 95% of Gram Panchayats are preparing GPDPs. So, now is the time to shift focus on the quality of GPDPs to transform the GPDPs from mere wishlists.
The concerned Ministries along with democratic institutions, and the people-centred approach of the GPDP will lead to build-up of physical, financial, social and capital, and long term sustainable development at the village level.