10 Aug 2022  |   05:38am IST

Vote wisely!

The voting for 186 panchayats in the State will be held today.

It's a celebration in a way for the democratic system as panchayati raj is considered as the basic unit for regional self-administration. The common men's participation in voting is critical and to increase this participation, a three-tier Panchayati Raj system was incorporated through 73rd Amendment Act.

In Goa, it is a two-tier system consisting of elections and then showing engagement in actual governance of the panchayat. The Law has arranged systematic provisions, but the common man should keep himself informed by being an active part of this system. Which is why exercising the right to vote wisely is essential.

A voter should consider the candidate's grasp over knowledge of Panchayati Raj Act and is willing to genuinely work towards the betterment of villagers. The voter should be self-aware of his duties. In the Panchayati Raj system the panchayat members are important in terms of governance but gram sabhas are even more crucial as they act as watchdogs to panchas. Gram sabhas can put the council members back on track whenever they go off. All the voters from the village are de facto members of the sabha and in a way, the elected panchas are constantly under the villagers' lens. Of course, the village should also be cooperative and constructive in its approach.

The voters should show up during the gram sabhas to understand the issues faced by the village so that they can get the work done by the elected panchayat representatives. A development does not depend solely on panch members but requires two-way communication with its villagers; a provision for which is already mentioned in the Act.

There are various committees in a panchayat with Ward Development Committee being the most decisive one. The Committee's prime intention is to know what kind of developmental projects are needed in the village and to maintain the report accordingly. The gram sabha also has the right to appoint two monitor committees which supervise the works being carried out by the panchayat. Most importantly, the panchayat has to abide by decisions taken at gram sabhas which speak volumes about its significance.

One significant task that the Panchayati Raj Act has to take upon is to establish District Planning Committees which have never received required attention by the government. Initially for the longest time these committees were never set up. They were established later but no fruitful results. These committees are accountable to review the developmental projects of all the panchayats in the respective district and come up with the overall district plan which is later sent for approval. This underlines the importance of district committees.

The panchayats too have to submit their reports in due time for district committees to review them. Another important entity of the panchayati raj is Finance Commission since the commission decides on distributing the government funds between Zilla Panchayats and Gram Panchayats. The funds for development projects are a necessity and a definite arrangement should be put in place so that these funds flow to Zilla and Gram panchayats without much fuss.

The distribution of funds to the panchayats by the government is never done neutrally. One panchayat is bestowed by funds while another one has to wait for months or even years.  Unfortunately, the government never paid enough attention to the provision of the Finance Commission. The Finance Commissions were established for the namesake. The expectation is that at least this time the Commission will submit the report and hopefully the government will put it into effect. The panchayats should assertively demand for this as well. If voters are aware of in-depth information of the law, it will result in voting more responsibly.


Iddhar Udhar