The Centre has left out Gujarat when it comes to allocation of funds under the revamped Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA) for 2022-23. The central scheme aims to strengthen the capacities of rural local governance institutions in order to deliver on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
But Gujarat has not been allocated a single rupee for 2022-23, according to the Centre’s reply in the Lok Sabha to a question raised by two MPs.
“There is no case reported in the ministry regarding misuse of the funds. Even then, no funds have been released for Gujarat,” it said.
Hemant Kumar Shah, an economist who has worked on the Panchayati Raj for years said, “If the government has not provided any funds, it directly means that there is no need to build the capacity of Panchayati Raj office bearers in Gujarat. If the government believes this, it’s their biggest error.”
“The fund is used to train the Sarpanch and other Panchayat officials. If they are not trained, they will not be able to learn about the laws. Even today, of 14,000 Gram Panchayats in the state, only about 200 hold Gram Sabhas in a fully legalised way, while the rest of the panchayats are just doing paperwork,” he said.
Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)’s Gujarat president Naishad Desai, said, “The BJP government’s focus is only on cities, and in Gujarat, the government has stopped focusing on villages after 1995.”
“If the government is just concerned with expanding the municipal corporation areas and incorporating 40 per cent of the villages, how will the government announce funds to local Sarpanches?” he asked.
Sandeep Kumar, Development Commissioner of Gujarat Government Panchayat, Village Housing, and Village Development, did not respond to queries.