State Government has been implementing various developmental and welfare schemes for the socio-economic upliftment of people of rural areas. The Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are playing an important role in providing benefits of these schemes in rural areas. State government has succeeded in creating immense economic activities besides generating employment opportunities in the rural areas and uplifting the living standard of people living in rural areas significantly which has benefitted all sections of the society.
Keeping in view the geographical and administrative needs of the state, the government has recently constituted 412 new panchayats and now there are 3615 gram panchayats in the state. The government is ensuring better services like health, education, electricity and water supply in all rural areas of the state in which PRIs have played a significant role.
The government is also laying special emphasis on implementing e-services in the rural areas of the state for which 3,226 panchayats have been covered under digital umbrella. Internet facilities have been made available, which has proved boon in dissemination of information on a large scale till the last mile of rural areas.
Panchayati Raj department has been awarded the first prize at the national level under e-Panchayat for the year 2020 and second prize for the year 2021 for ensuring the optimum use of information technology to monitor the work of the Panchayats. 3226 gram panchayats of the state are working online under the e-Panchayat portal through Plan Plus, LGD, Geo tagging, Area Profile, Priya Software and National Asset Directory application. The Parivaar Register of Gram Panchayats has been made available online in all the panchayats and copies of the Parivaar Register are being provided online. This facility is also helping in bringing transparency, efficiency and accountability in the functioning of gram panchayats.
The state government has benefited panchayats directly from the funds received from the center government under the recommendation of the 14th and 15th Finance Commission. In the last three years an amount of Rs 35.74 crore has been spent on construction and repair works of 671 panchayat ghar. 1339 Moksha Dham have also been constructed in the state. In order to give impetus to developmental works in Gram Panchayats, the 15th Finance Commission has made a provision of Rs. 1600 crore for Gram Panchayats in the year 2020-21, out of which the first instalment of Rs. 214 crore has been received. Panchayat Ghar are being constructed in the newly formed Panchayats in a phased manner. Separate technical wing has also been constituted for PRIs under the overall supervision and inspection of Secretary Panchayati Raj, District Executive Officer (Zilla Parishad) at the state level and Chief Executive Officer (Panchayat Samiti) at the block level for the development of rural areas. 1409 posts of various categories have also been created for this purpose.
The State has achieved approximately 6.06 crore man days to provide employment opportunities to the villagers at their doorstep, out of which the participation of women is 63 per cent. During this period, 1.32 lakh families got more than 100 days of employment with an expenditure of Rs. 1780.43 crore. Under the Gramin Vikas Yojana, in the last three years, 7135 houses have been constructed and under Mukhya Mantri Aawas Muramat Yojana financial assistance of Rs. 5.68 crore has been provided to 2000 beneficiaries. Apart from this, National Rural Livelihood Mission is being implemented in 80 development blocks of 12 districts of the state and 17,550 free electric connections have also been provided to poor families under Mukhyamantri Roshni Yojana.
The government has enhanced the honorarium of Panchayati Raj representatives during the last three years. The honorarium of Chairman Zilla Parishad has been increased from Rs. 8000 to Rs. 12000 and Chairman of Panchayat Samiti from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 7000. The honorarium of Gram Panchayat Pradhan has been increased from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 4500 per month and the meeting allowance of gram panchayat members to Rs. 250 per meeting. Apart from this, the monthly remuneration of Sewing Teacher working in Gram Panchayats has been increased to Rs. 6800. Panchayat Chowkidars are now being paid a salary of Rs. 5300 per month. This will encourage the representatives of PRIs to work with greater dedication and commitment.
The state government has also made effective efforts towards the women empowerment in rural areas. The State government has made a provision of 50 percent reservation for women in PRIs in order to increase women's participation in the developmental works being carried out at the village level. In the recently concluded PRIs elections in the state, 15,249 women have been elected to various posts including 124 Zila Parishad members, 873 Panchayat Samiti members, 12422 Panchayat members and 1828 Pradhan.
The government has also roped in the statewide network of PRIs to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in state. PRIs is playing an active role in convincing the local residents to follow the guideline of the State government and cooperate with the frontline health workers and other Corona warriors. With the help of PRIs, the government is setting up isolation centers in rural areas developed IEC material regarding hygiene awareness, intensive sanitization/disinfection measures and deployment of village volunteers for COVID-19 management, enforcement of social distancing, organization of medical camps, tracking and isolating new entrants to the villages. Through the involvement of PRIs and Self Help Groups, door to door campaign for mass production of masks has also helped in creating employment opportunities to the migrant labour.
To ensure effective implementation of development works in rural areas training programmes were also organised for the representatives of PRIs for which district resource centers have been set up in Kangra, Hamirpur, Solan, Mandi and Bilaspur districts while the construction work of Kinnaur, Sirmaur and Shimla resource centers is in progress. As many as 598 general service centers have also been set up in the state to provide all IT related services under one roof at the panchayat level and 2982 additional centers will be set up in the year 2021-22. In last three years, 26500 representatives of PRIs and Gram Panchayat Secretaries have been trained. Panchayats have also been involved in creating awareness against social vices as well as creating awareness about environment and water conservation.