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AP to usher in convergence with `village secretariats'

V.Rishi Kumar

HYDERABAD, Dec.30

WITH the dawn of the year 2002, in yet another important stride towards multi-sectoral reforms in the administrative set up, the Andhra Pradesh Government is moving towards establishing `village secretariats' bringing in convergence at local level.

This move is perceived as a major step toward the Gandhian ideal of `Gram Swaraj, which is being structured as a new system of village administration accountable to the elected members of gram panchayats.

Following this step, the traditional system of village administrative officers handling land revenue and other matters, will be gradually replaced by a village secretary acting as a local administrator performing revenue, developmental and a host of othe r functions.

The Government had approved this move last month after a Cabinet Sub-committee for reorganisation of village administration and decentralisation of powers to the local bodies submitted a detailed strategy on these vital issues aimed at convergence at the village level.

The idea was developed based on the larger concept of reaching out services to the doorstep of villagers in a more efficient manner, bypassing the structured multi-tiered system.

Each and every village regardless of size and population, would have a secretary who will be a Government employee and serve as a common interface for people in the village set up. The idea is to empower them and provide connectivity to them to interface with both mandal and district level as also at the State level.

The secretary has the mandate to carry out the decisions of the panchayat, be available to the panchayat at all times and ensure service to villagers. Gradually with better communications network and power connectivity, such centres will be able to provi de various citizen centric services with computers, it is learnt.

Following the constitutional amendment, a lot of funds are expected to flow to these local secretariat. It is estimated that over 20,000 secretariats will be set up wherein secretaries will provide single point interface for citizens.

The Government has also released a job chart specifying duties and making the functioning transparent.

This will also mean gradual phasing out of village administrative officers. As of now, the Government carries out administration in villages through interface of executive officers and village development officers and village assistants. With village sec retariat, this will witness significant changes.

These secretariats will be empowered to maintain land records, record agriculture production, issue income and caste certificates, will help local populace during crisis, while facilitating in maintaining law and order.

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