Parliamentary panel pulls up panchayati raj ministry over non-release of funds under RGSA

NEW DELHI, 15 Mar: A parliamentary panel has ticked off the panchayati raj ministry over non-release of funds to states under the flagship Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA).
In its report tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the Standing Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj said that these funds are released to the states primarily for capacity building and training of elected representatives, functionaries and other stakeholders of the panchayats.
It said that 19 out of 34 states and union territories have not received any funds under the scheme for the financial year 2022-23 (as on 31.12.2022). Similarly, in 2021-22, no funds were released to nine out of 34 states and union territories.
“The ministry to this effect submitted that timely non-submission of requisite documents and non-compliance of instructions stipulated by the ministry of finance, inter alia, are the reasons for non-release of funds.
“In committee’s view, halting funds in such a manner to many states will hamper the progress of this important scheme which aims at strengthening of the panchayati raj institutions. In this context, the committee recommend that the ministry be proactive in ensuring compliance of ministry of finance’s stipulations and submission of requisite documents by the states/UTs, so that funds are released to all the states/UTs uniformly,” the committee said. (PTI)
It said also that, if necessary, such matters should be taken up at the highest level with the states/union territories, so that progress of the envisaged schemes may not hamper on account of delay or non-release of funds under RGSA.
The committee also raised concern over the unavailability of computer in gram panchayats.
“The committee is concerned to note that out of 2,71,102 gram panchayats in the country, only 2,19,889 GPs have computers in them. Availability of computers is a prerequisite for using internet service facilities,” it said.
It also pointed out that only 80,742 rural local bodies have active internet connection as on 21-01-2023, out of 2,71,102 rural local bodies, even though 1.92 lakh gram panchayats have been made service ready.
“The committee has also observed lack of broadband connectivity in the gram panchayats and use of private cellular data for public service delivery during its study visits undertaken to states such as Maharashtra.
“Considering the significance of the project, the committee urges the ministry to take concrete steps in coordination with other two ministries to make all the 1.92 lakh service ready GPs to have active internet connection during 2023-24 and to connect all GPs with broadband connectivity by 2024-25.
“The committee would like to be apprised of the progress made in this regard,” it said.
It also recommended that the ministry ensure that all gram panchayats provide all mandated online assured services, instead of confining to only birth and death certificates. (PTI)