AP govt moots more powers to Panchayat Raj: Minister

Hyderabad, May 30: The Andhra Pradesh government will further study the possibility of transferring 29 subjects to the Panchayat raj institutions as enshrined in the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act.

“We have so far transferred about 11 subjects and conferred powers on the panchayat raj bodies to discharge those functions. We will have to study further into the issue of transferring more powers and funds to these institutions, AP’s new Panchayat Raj Minister Botsa Satyanarayana said on Friday.

A high-level meeting would soon be convened to deliberate on the issue, he said, adding that the state government would try to transfer some subjects to the PR bodies in the next three months.

“We shall look into the possibilities and take a decision. If we are unable to delegate certain powers, we shall plead with the elected representatives to accept what is given to them,” Botsa said.

The new Minister said his department would lay emphasis on improvement of basic infrastructure in villages in the next five years.

An action plan would be drawn for this and the Union Government would be requested to grant funds for taking up the works, he said.

“Of the 1.27 lakh kilometre rural roads in the state, only 27,698 km was blacktopped. The balance portion is undeveloped and we have to improve the condition of such roads,” Botsa added. (NZ-29/05)

AP govt issues diktat to check hoarders

With resentment among people over soaring prices of rice, Andhra Pradesh govt has decided to crackdown on millers and traders hoarding rice stocks across the state.

Chief Secretary P Ramakanth Reddy on Friday issued a directive to district Collectors through a video-conference to conduct raids on all private and government godowns and unearth illegally hoarded stocks of paddy and rice of preferred varieties.

Seize all illegal stocks, mill them and bring them into the open market. Prices of preferred varieties of rice should be brought down at all costs immediately, the Chief Secretary ordered.

Similarly, the Collectors have been directed to weed out bogus and ghost ration cards to ensure that subsidised rice at Rs 2 per kg reaches only eligible families.

“Now that the quantity of subsidised rice per family has been enhanced from 20 to 30 kgs per month, be extra cautious and take foolproof steps to plug leakages,” the Chief Secretary said.

Civil Supplies Commissioner Sanjay Jaju said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the state agencies have completed the levy procurement targets by now.

“We have put forward a request with the Government of India for enhancement of levy target as we are passing through a situation of plenty,” Jaju said.

Paddy procurement operations were on in full swing but shortage of storage space in godowns was hampering the process, Jaju said.

However, steps were being taken to ensure that the farmers get minimum support price.

Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary directed the district Collectors to ensure that workers under National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) were paid the enhanced wage of Rs 100 per day.

He also wanted the Collectors to prevent migration of labourers from one district to another and provide them wage employment under NREGP in their home district.

The Chief Secretary’s directive came in the wake of death of 12 workers in Adilabad district last week while taking part in NREGP works.

These workers migrated to Adilabad from their native Mahbubnagar in search of work.

The Chief Secretary also reviewed the drinking water supply, sanitation situation in both rural and urban areas, BC scholarships and other issues with the district Collectors.