Chief Minister N. Biren Singh new mission to reach out all the villages of the state for delivering the benefit of the government schemes to the villagers at their doorsteps is something which the state like Manipur has been awaiting since a very long time, even as the procedures appears as anti – thesis to the decentralisation of power to local bodies. It was perhaps because of the failure in the functioning of the local bodies like – the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) or the Autonomous District Councils (ADC) in Hill districts that people think the initiative taken up by the Chief Minister, the mission go to hill is the need of the hour.
Well PRI was passed by the Government of India for decentralization of Power which was generally described as the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act,1992. It is a fact that the Act has ushered in an era of uniform system of Panchayati Raj throughout the country.
The PRI has been endowed with measures of continuity, certainty and strength but among others due to lack of proper devolution of power and financial resources, their existence is not felt except during election time for the local bodies. In conformity with the provisions of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 the Manipur Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 was passed and it came into force with effect from 23-04-1994. It extended to the erstwhile 4(four) valley districts, via; Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur only. For administrative convenience, the Government of Manipur, has created 7 (seven) new districts in December, 2016 which include 2 (two) in the valley and 5(five) in the Hill areas by bifurcating some of the already existing Districts in the valley and hill areas of the State thereby raising the number of districts to 16 (sixteen) in Manipur.
The State Act does not extend Panchayat in the hill areas of Manipur where (Village Authorities in Hill Areas) Act,1956 or the Manipur ( Hill Areas) District Council Act,1971 is in operation. The Act provides for the establishment of a two-tier system of Panchayati Raj, i.e. Gram Panchayat at the Village level and Zilla Parishad at the District level.
As of now, creation of 2 (two) new Districts in the valley has not made any changes with the existing nomenclature of 4 (four) Zilla Parishads viz Imphal East ZP, Imphal West ZP, Thoubal ZP and Bishnupur ZP and also no changes have been made in the nomenclature of the existing 161 (One hundred sixty one) Gram Panchayats at the village level. The Panchayats at both levels are involved in the implementation of centrally sponsored and State planned schemes for creation of community assets, infrastructure development and employment generation etc; in rural areas of the State. The State Act does not provide for establishment of the intermediate/middle-tier, i.e. Panchayat Samiti at the Block level.
Article 243(G) of the Central Act and the Section 35 and 61 of the Manipur Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 empower the Panchayti Raj Institutions (PRIs) to become vibrant units of local self-governance and play a vital role in the development of rural areas for poverty alleviation through the process of ensuring maximum participation of the general masses by holding Gram Sabhas for preparation of Plans for economic development and social justice.
When there is a legislation to reach out all the villages as per the provision for establishment of the PRI or the ADC, most villagers were reported not getting what they deserved due to lack of proper recognition as well as failure for devolution of power. State government has started mapping of around 6 departments for devolution of power but, reality is different as the Panchayat Institutions or the ADCs are yet to make functional.
Reasons on why there are no devolutions of powers to Panchayat Institutions or the ADCs can only be known by those in the government. It was amidst this crucial hours that the Chief Minister of Manipur N. Biren Singh launched the enthusiastic ‘Go to Village’ mission.
‘Go to Village’ mission gives special focus to schemes for social benefit, health and education and identification of left out beneficiaries for inclusion in Government programmes of housing and pension etc.
To assist the villagers, officials of different Government Departments are deputed at the camps organised on every Tuesday at selected villages of all the 60 Assembly Constituencies. The mission will cover all the villages and urban or semi-urban localities one after another.
Under the mission, the Government provides an array of services to the villages and the villagers which the government of India provides under various schemes.
The mission needs appreciation from all sections. However, on second thought, one needs to ponder on why the need for huge expenditure for conduct of Local bodies elections every five years. When the state can be run in the ‘Go to Village Model’ then why spend time for decentralization of power. The Central government too should think a way to end the decentralization of powers for running of the democracy if the centralisation already works here in the state.
Moreover, revenue collection system have also been already centralised and doing good to the economy of the country, as per statements from the present BJP headed government in the center.