Kerala: Power to panchayats

Print edition : January 31, 2020
Kerala shows the way in devolving power and resources to panchayats.

Kerala was the best performer in devolving power and resources to panchayats, Uttar Pradesh cornered the lion’s share of all grants to panchayati raj institutions over the past five years, and the gap between allocation and release of finance commission grants to PRIs has been steadily widening, according to a document of basic statistics on PRIs released by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in 2019.

Kerala topped the country in ranking based on Improved Index of Policy, Index of Devolution in Practice and Improved Policy Index adjusted against Practice. It was followed by Maharashtra in second place in all three indices.

The statistics also showed that in the past four years, the gap between the amount allocated as Finance Commission grants and the amount actually released has been growing. In 2015-16 the release percentage was 99.47. This slid to 96.57 per cent in 2016-17, plunging to 85.20 per cent the next year and plummeting to 74.09 per cent in 2018-19. In contrast, in 2013-14 the release percentage had exceeded 100 to touch 106.63 per cent.

According to the publication, there are 2,60,512 PRIs in India, comprising 2,53,268 village panchayats, 6,614 intermediate panchayats and 630 district panchayats. The elected members of PRIs totalled 31,00,804, of whom 13,75,914, or 44.37 per cent, were women. Rajasthan had the highest proportion of elected women representatives (56.49 per cent), followed by Uttarakhand (55.66 per cent), Chhattisgarh (54.78 per cent) and Kerala (52.42 per cent). Only nine States had at least 50 per cent elected women representatives.

Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of elected representatives at 8,26,458, accounting for 26.65 per cent of all elected representatives of PRIs in the country. It was followed by Madhya Pradesh with 3,92,981 (12.67 per cent), Maharashtra with 2,40,122 (7.74 per cent), Chhattisgarh with 1,70,285 (5.49 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh with 1,56,050 (5.03 per cent).

Uttar Pradesh also accounted for the highest share of the total grants under the 14th Finance Commission (2015-16 to 2019-20). Over the five-year period it received Rs.35,776.56 crore or 17.86 per cent of the total all-India grants of Rs.2,00,292.17 crore. It was followed by Bihar, which got Rs.21,017.83 crore (10.49 per cent), Maharashtra, which was granted Rs.15,035.68 crore (7.51 per cent), West Bengal, which received Rs.14,191.78 crore (7.09 crore), and Rajasthan, which got Rs.13,633.63 crore (6.81 per cent). These five States accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total all-India grants.

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