Siddu favours two-tier panchayat system in State

Suggests that taluk panchayats be converted into advisory bodies

Siddu favours two-tier panchayat system in State

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he preferred a two-tier system than the present three-tier panchayat system with taluk panchayats becoming a nominated body.

Speaking at a Karnataka Panchayat Council meeting held in the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Wednesday, Siddaramaiah said, “I personally feel that there is no need to conduct elections for the taluk panchayat as it does not have much power. It could be made into an advisory body by nominating members,."

He also felt that more powers could be bestowed on zilla panchayat presidents.

In the recently concluded legislature session, many MLAs had said that taluk panchayats have been losing their importance as they hardly receives any grants and also the members do not have much power. Some MLAs had even suggested to the government to do away with taluk panchayats.

Recommendation

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil said a committee headed by former Speaker Ramesh Kumar, which was studying the implementation of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act since its enactment in 1993, would be submitting its recommendation next month. The Nanjayannamath Committee working on delimitation of gram panchayats will also be submitting its report next month.

Karnataka Panchayat Council is a state-level forum constituted to mentor and monitor panchayat institutions. It has representatives from the three-tier panchayat system - gram panchayat, taluk panchayat and zilla panchayat. The Council headed by the chief minister.

Resource generation

Siddaramaiah said gram panchayats should generate more resources by ensuring proper tax collection and channelise the same for village development. A majority of the gram panchayats were not meeting the tax target set for them. The panchayat can collect property tax on buildings and open spaces within its jurisdiction. Siddaramaiah said tax collection could be augmented if basic amenities provided at the village improve.

According to an agenda circulated at the meeting, gram panchayats had been set a target of Rs 740 crore during the financial year 2013-14. However, the 5,500 gram panchayats in the State could mobilise only Rs 339 crore.

According to officials in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, the department will come out with new guidelines to improve tax collection. It is proposed to empower panchayats to collect property tax on mobile towers, wind-power units, petrol bunks, solar parks, airports which fall in their jurisdiction.

Power bills

Siddaramaiah also dwelt on the pending power bills from gram panchayats which stood at a whopping Rs 3,236 crore at the end of the last financial year. At this point, several members at the meeting urged the chief minister to waive the bills. Siddaramaiah responded saying, “Everything cannot be waived. Go for better tax collection. Some gram panchayat collect only five to 10 per cent of their set target.”

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