CM releases Rs 79.21 crore basic PRI grant

ITANAGAR, 23 Sep: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Friday released the basic grant for this year, amounting to Rs 79.21 crore, for the panchayati raj institutions (PRI).

The amount accounts for 70 percent of the basic grant to state PRIs, and the remaining 30 percent, which will be performance-based, will be released subsequently after a review of the performances of the PRIs in their respective jurisdictions.

Handing over the demand draft to the department concerned at a function organised by the All Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Parishad, Khandu informed that the grant amount is from “state-owned resource tax revenue.”

“Instead of looking for help from the Centre for each and everything, we have allocated Rs 123 crore from our internal resources to PRIs for this year, and this is the basic grant we are releasing today,” he said.

Stating that, as per the 73rd constitutional amendment, the state government has decided to devolve power to the PRIs on 29 subjects, the CM urged the PRIs to “work with more vigour and energy to take development in rural pockets of Arunachal Pradesh to a new height.”

He said that, besides the grants from state-owned resources, the PRIs will be funded with provisions under the 14th Finance Commission as well as the 15th Finance Commission.

He revealed that Rs 200 crore has already been released under the 15th Finance Commission for the PRIs,

and that the balance of Rs 800 crore will be released by the commission, spread over the next five years, provided that utilisation certificates are submitted as required and on time.

“Guided by the SPICE (Sustainable, Participative, Inclusive, Comprehensive and Empowerment) module, the PRIs must be able to successfully function as institutions of self-government and accelerate development at the grassroots level,” he said.

“There is no dearth of funds. What we lack is coordinated and synchronised efforts,” the CM said, and urged all stakeholders – the local MLAs, PRIs, the district administrations, and the departments concerned – to coordinate with one another in the implementation of developmental projects at the panchayat level.

He emphasised on “convergence of different schemes and programmes for overall development of the rural areas,” adding that “We are committed to empower PRIs with the 3 Fs – functions, functionaries and funds.”

Stating that the officials in the districts have a big role to play, Khandu urged them to “go the extra mile in assisting and guiding PRI members to avail government schemes for development of the villages.”

He requested the ZPCs to periodically review the projects in their respective districts with the PRI members and officials concerned. He also advised them to personally visit work sites and keep themselves updated regarding each and every project.

The chief minister also lauded the fact that, out of a total of 241 ZPMs, 90 are women, while of the 25 ZPCs, 13 are women.

“Role of women in development at the grassroots level is significant. With such a huge presence in the PRI, there’s no doubt that our villages and villagers are in good hands. I hope this is replicated in the coming assembly elections and we witness a significant increase in women legislators in our assembly,” Khandu said.

He further said that Arunachal has done wonders in the last few years in terms of generating revenue from its own resources.

“When I took over as chief minister in 2016, the annual state budget was Rs 12,553 crore. Compare it with this year’s budget of Rs 26,111 crore, which is almost three times that of 2016. This proves that we can generate revenue from our own resources if we have that political will,” he said.

Khandu said that revenue generation would further increase in the coming years with the completion of major hydropower projects like the Subansiri Lower and Dibang, “boost in tourism and agriculture and allied sectors, following the boost in state’s connectivity vis-à-vis road, air, rail and digital connectivity.”

“The more we generate revenue, the more we can invest on developmental projects,” he added.

Panchayati Raj Minister Bamang Felix in his address expressed confidence in “the dedication of the PRIs towards transforming rural Arunachal into self-sustainable,” and advised that the funds “should be utilised with accountability, strictly adhering to SOPs.”

Giving assurance that the state government is committed to empower the PRIs, Felix said that, “in response to their dedication and efficiency in the coming months, the state government may dedicate a financial year as a year of rural Arunachal.”

Meanwhile, the chief minister launched the SPICE manual and a handbook of SOPs for use by the PRI members.

The function was also attended by Deputy Speaker Tesam Pongte, MLAs, All Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Parishad president and ZPC Biri Shanti, and officials of the panchayati raj & rural development department. (CM’s PR Cell)