Plan to have development officers in panchayats: C P Joshi

New Delhi, Oct 28 (Calcutta Tube) The government is working on a proposal to appoint a development officer in each of the 2.4 lakh panchayats to facilitate proper implementation of its schemes, Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi said Thursday.

The government spends lakhs of rupees for development in panchayats but there wasn’t enough back-up support for implementation of schemes to accelerate rural development, Joshi said at a national conference here of state ministers in charge of sanitation.

He suggested at the meet on accelerating the Total Sanitation Campaign that the panchayat development officer should be a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) or a person with similar qualifications.

The officer would be assisted by people with technical and accounting skills besides those relating to extension services.

‘Villages should get services of educated youth… We require different type of intervention at the grassroots… to play a role of catalyst and address the issues of quality of delivery,’ he said.

The minister said the proposal for appointment of panchayat development officers was being formulated by his ministry and would be implemented by the states.

He said that of 2,44,000 panchayats in the country, about 70,000 did not have a functional panchayat office.

He said the Total Sanitation Campaign had rapidly changed the sanitation map of India and should involve panchayats in a bigger way besides reaching out to school children in rural areas.

Secretary in the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation Arun Kumar Misra said an estimated 1.1 billion people in the world openly defecate and 58 percent were in India, mainly in rural areas.

He said work done so far under the sanitation campaign had covered only one percent of the poorest in the country.

‘So far, we have done the thing that is easier. To reach to the poorest of the poor in the next five years will need more effort,’ he said.

United Nations Children’s Fund representative Karin Hulshof said every dollar spent on sanitation accrues benefit of nine dollars in terms of improved health, social and economic benefits.

The Total Sanitation Campaign, launched in 1999, aims at eradicating the practice of open defecation in a demand driven and participatory approach by involving panchayats and local communities.

The meeting aimed at accelerating the campaign in a mission mode and achieve the target of total sanitation by 2015, officials said.

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