The Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) was meant to ensure people participation, but most villagers don’t know about it.
Lakshmiamma, a shop owner in Kumbalgodu, sits in her shop for the entire day. Unaware about the GPDP meetings, she says that she has never heard about any participatory meeting by the panchayat. S The meetings require participation from the villagers to frame development plans for economic and social justice. But many people like Lakshmiamma are not aware of the GPDP announcements.
People in rural Karnataka are not aware about the conduct of GPDP meetings and surveys by the gram panchayat. People say that they are not informed about the meetings. Gram panchayats announce the Gram Sabha meetings through various methods like pasting notices at various places or announcements through tom-tom.
(kindly put this in an infograph)
Panchayats have been mandated to conduct GPDP meetings and draw plans for economic development and social justice utilizing the resources available to them. People’s need have to be included in the plan through the assembly of people. .
Karnataka remains one of the lowest performers in conducting the Central government’s GPDP meetings. In 2021-22, the state had less than 40 percent registered meetings and around 500 panchayats did not schedule any meeting.
Srinivas, a statistical officer,Bangalore Zilla Panchayat said, “Panchayat Development Officers are responsible for calling the people and experts from various areas to conduct the meetings. We have given the schedule for them to work and assigned nodal officers. All the executive officers have been educated about the GPDP meetings through seminars. They should take the scheme forward.” He added that without the cooperation from respective gram panchayats, this GPDP will remain on paper.
The individual gram panchayats have a different story to tell. A revenue officer from a Bangalore rural gram panchayat said, “In some panchayats in Bangalore, only 20 to 30 people attend the panchayat meetings. People do not turn up for the meetings despite various efforts.”However, Devendra Babu, a researcher on rural governance said that the meetings only addressed the collective needs of panchayat like construction of roads. “The individual needs like house grants, help for education are not met in the meetings and that’s the main reason people don’t want to attend these meetings,” he added.
Santhosh Kumar, a daily wager from Kodigehalli said that he must go to work every day for his livelihood and taking leave from work to attend the panchayat meeting is not affordable for him.
Srinivas said, “People with political or societal affiliations participate. Well-off people don’t come. Needy people participate and get their voices heard.”
However, Chandru, an auto driver who participated in the last meeting that held in October said, “I am doubtful whether any plans were implemented. Sometimes, the gram panchayat changes the plan according to their personal gains.”A revenue officer said that the gram panchayat officers after listening to all the queries and demands of the people, will prepare a plan based on the available resources to the panchayat
Babu suggests that gram panchayats take the help of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to ensure better participation.
He said, “the present quorum of the gram sabha is one-tenth of the panchayat’s population. I visited some districts in Karnataka and got to know that gram sabhas are effective.”
GPDP meetings at the panchayat level with participation from people are mandated from 2015. The union government launched People’s Plan campaigns under Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas and Vibrant Gram Sabha to ensure their better performance.