Central team touring northeast to push for grassroots governance

February 18th, 2011 - 6:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Aizawl/Agartala, Feb 18 (IANS) A central government team, sponsored by the union panchayati raj ministry, is touring the northeastern states to gather public opinion on devolution of governance to the grass roots level, an official said Friday.Most parts of the mountainous northeast, comprising seven states, have been ravaged by militancy for the past several decades. Anguish, deprivation and distress are the root cause of terrorism in the region.

“A four-member central team led by Hrusikesh Panda, additional secretary of the ministry of panchayati raj, is on a tour in the northeast region to study the possibility of further decentralisation of governance in the region,” a Mizoram government official told reporters.

He said: “The central team during their two-day (Thursday and Friday) tour to the villages of Mizoram has gathered public opinion on the further devolution of governance to the grass roots.”

“If the local people are largely involved in the process of governance, many problems including insurgency can be dealt with effectively,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The central team comprising top officials of the ministries of panchayati raj, home affairs, urban development and the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), has also studied the role of village councils for community development and given suggestions for better governance in their villages.

“The central team has also requested the village heads to visit other Indian states to acquire knowledge for better management of their villages. These tours would be sponsored by the union ministry of panchayati raj,” Panda was quoted by the Mizoram government official as saying.

The central team has also held a series of meetings in Aizawl and other places of Mizoram with the delegates of Lai, Mara and Chakma Autonomous District Councils, Mizoram Chief Secretary Pu Van Hela Pachuau and other senior officials and discussed the issue.

The central team will also visit the other northeastern states for the purpose.

There are 16 autonomous district councils (ADCs) in northeast India facilitating the socio-economic development of tribals, who make up 27 percent of the region’s total population of around 40 million.

Of the 16 ADCs, six are in Manipur, three each in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura. In Manipur, tribals have been protesting for the past few months demanding more power to the six tribal autonomous district councils in the northeastern state.

There are two types of elected village management systems in northeast India. In the ADC areas, the local village bodies are called village councils or village committees while in the non-ADC areas there are thousands of gram panchayats.

The Tripura government has already handed over 12 important departments to the TTAADC (Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council) as part of efforts to provide more autonomy to tribals.

“The Left Front government has been committed to all round socio-economic development of tribals and people leaving in the remote, hilly and interior areas,” Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma told IANS.

The politically important TTAADC was formed under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution in 1985.

Debbarma said the 12 departments handed over to the TTAADC in Tripura include education, health, agriculture, fisheries, animal resource development, social welfare, social forestry, cultural affairs, cooperative (partial) and panchayat (partial).

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