Bengal’s Panchayati Raj system wins World Bank award, becomes role model for country
Bengal’s panchayat system has become the role model for the rest of the country. This was stated by the Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee recently, after the State’s Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayats (ISGP) programme was given the highest rating by the World Bank for bringing about overall modernisation of the panchayat system of Bengal.
The other contenders were all countries and regions in the world where the World Bank-funded ISGP programme is being run. An Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), which works as an autonomous organisation within the World Bank, had come and evaluated the programme in Bengal.
This award will act as a major boost for the Trinamool Congress ahead of the statewide panchayat elections scheduled for the early part of next year.
Under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the seeds of all-round development have been sown in rural Bengal, be it the Kanyashree Scheme or the Sabuj Sathi Scheme or the Mission Nirmal Bangla or this ISGP programme for gram panchayats. Schemes like Kanyashree and Nirmal Bangla have won international praise, including from the United Nations and UNICEF.
The ISGP programme is now being run in all the gram panchayats in all the districts of Bengal. The second phase of the programme is currently on, and is scheduled to end in December 2022.
Among the work accomplished as part of the ISGP programme are creation of government assets in rural areas, training of government officials and workers, setting proper accounting standards, providing computer training, and setting up of GIS-based (through mobile phones) integrated planning and monitoring system for the Panchayati Raj institutions.
As a part of the ‘untied funds’ scheme associated with the ISGP programme, gram panchayats are fulfilling projects like selling drinking water in barrels and bottles in rural areas, making and selling plates and bowls made of sal leaves, among others, which act as additional sources of income for the panchayats.