Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Anil Sharma today said that the State Government was committed to strengthen the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and various powers had been decentralized to make them stronger. He said few BJP leaders had been making claims that the powers of elected representatives of these institutions had been curtailed which was political motivated and beyond the facts.The Minister said the fact was that as per the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, the funds were being directly transferred to the panchayats as no provision had been made by the Government of India to providing funds to Zila Parishads or Panchayat Samitis. The Commission had clearly directed that the funds would be provided to the gram panchayats which would be further utilized by the panchayats for providing basic amenities to the people of the area as per defined norms and the panchayats had been asked to prepare annual plan.He said State had repeatedly requested the Government of India to amend the recommendations of the Commission by making provisions to provide certain funds to Zila Parishads and Panchayat Samitis as well but yet it had not been accepted. Now, the Chief Minister had taken up this matter with the Prime Minister of India but the State had not received any response even after passing of over a month.
Anil Sharma said the statement of former Chief Minister Shri Prem Kumar Dhumal was contrary to the facts that a committee of officers had been constituted at block level to incur the funds received under 14th Finance Commission. He said the fact was that each gram panchayat would prepare annual and five years plan on its own level to spend the funds which would be sent to Block after approval of the gram Sabha. The Block would further send the plans of all panchayats of the Development Blocks to the District which would be approved by the District Planning Committee. After final approval the panchayats would implement the entire schemes at its own level for which they had been provided funds. He clarified that the department had not issued any directions or letter to constitute any committee of officers to spend the funds received from the Commission.The Minister said the statement of former Chief Minister was also baseless that his Government had released funds to the Zila Parishads and Panchayat Samitis for developmental works. He said Zila Parishads and Panchayat Samitis were provided funds under 12th and 13th Finance Commissions as the provisions had been made by these Commissions whereas there was no such provision in 14th Commission.He further stated that the State Government had not released any funds for developmental works from State Fund to Zila Parishads and Panchayat Samitis since 1995 and the State Finance Commission was providing grants for committed liabilities to all three tiers of PRIs