States asked to appoint dedicated staff for rural development

States asked to appoint dedicated staff for rural development

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday asked the states to appoint dedicated staff in each panchayat for effective implementation of rural development schemes, saying no goals could be achieved without them.

“We are spending Rs40 lakh each year on various functionaries in Panchayats and there is no one (visible) except the gram sevaks," union minister for rural development C. P. Joshi said while addresing a conference of state ministers on total sanitation here.

“There is lack of staff. Every panchayat should have a structure of dedicated staff. There should be at least one development officer, who has a degree in MBA, along with three other technical staff to look after the proper implementation of schemes. No goal can be achieved without a structure of dedicated staff in panchayats," he added.

The Minister suggested utilisation of Nrega fund, earmarked for administrative expenses, for creating the structure of dedicated staff in each panchayat.

On the total sanitation campaign (TSC), Joshi said there are reports about people slipping back to the practice of open defecation due to “engineering defects" in the toilets constructed.

“See UP, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. Toilets have been constructed but they are not being used. Ground reality is very serious. There are engineereing defects (in the toilets constructed) and we are not addressing the issue," Joshi said.

“Reports suggest that there is need to monitor the progress of the sanitation programme in a more effective manner," Minister said.

He also suggested that the states utilise Nrega for providing sanitation facility in villages to those who are below poverty line, and belong to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes.

“By an amendment, we made work on the the small and marginal farmer’s land as a permissible activity under Nrega. Time has come to make use of Nrega for the construction of toilets at the individuals house in the same pattern," he said.

He also made a strong plea to include sanitation in the school curriculum to make rural children aware of hygienic practices.

“We can consult primary school principals in villages and ask them to include sanitation in their school curriculum to make children aware of the things," he said.

He has asked the states to involve Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in the implementaion of total sanitation campaign and other rural development schemes, saying that “only they (PRI functionaries) can motivate people to stop the practice of open defecation."