State may look at making voting must

State may look at making voting must

Close on the heels of Gujarat making voting in the panchayat polls mandatory, the State Cabinet could soon discuss whether Karnataka, too, can follow suit.

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil told reporters on Wednesday that it was his personal opinion that voting should be made compulsory in all elections.

 “The Cabinet will soon discuss the report submitted by a legislature committee headed by former Speaker Ramesh Kumar on reforms in the Panchayat Raj system. The Cabinet could also discuss the feasibility of making voting compulsory in the State,” Patil said.

The Ramesh Kumar committee, however, has not recommended making voting compulsory in its report. 

Patil announced that the second phase of the Gram Swaraj project for strengthening the citizen delivery system of the gram panchayats in 79 backward taluks will be launched in January next. 

The World Bank-aided project will be taken up in 2,585 gram panchayats at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore over the next five years.

The World Bank will provide a loan of Rs 1,400 crore and the State government will chip in with Rs 600 crore. The objective of the project is to improve the effectiveness of service delivery by panchayats, provide training to panchayat officers and utilisation of technology.

The funds will also be utilised for implementing drinking water schemes, laying concrete roads and for construction of drains. Each panchayat will receive Rs 68 lakh during the next five years, he said. As many as 1,341 gram panchayats have been covered in the first phase of the scheme.

Patil said the S G Nanjaiah Math Committee report on delimitation of gram panchayats will be placed before the Cabinet. 

The entire process of delimitation, including calling for objection and demarcation of the boundaries will be completed before the panchayat polls scheduled for May next year, Patil said.

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