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West Bengal rural development a role model for India

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West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s admirable work in the rural sector has not gone unnoticed. In fact, the Union government has selected West Bengal’s rural development as the role model for the rest of the country. Recently, theUnion Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, announced West Bengal’s success in the field of rural development and decided to spread the word to other parts of the country. A national-level seminar at New Delhi will open a new vista for officials from Bengal, who will showcase their route map to success, before senior administrators of the Panchayati Raj ministry, finance ministry and a senior official of the World Bank.

In the last couple of years, the entire panchayat system was revamped and a large number of developmental projects were undertaken in the rural sector, which changed the scenario. In fact, villages in West Bengal have taken long strides -- a fact that is now officially being acknowledged by the Union government and the state is being projected as role model for others to follow. The Union Panchayati Raj ministry in collaboration with the World Bank has made a list of the areas where the state government has achieved excellent results and plans to circulate it to other states.

One of the most important change initiated by the state government that has reaped rich dividend is the introduction of the Annual Performance system. This is no easy task as the state panchayats have to fulfill certain procedures to qualify. These include identification of needs, location and beneficiary, a clear report about the proposed plans undertaken and their implementation, participation of villagers in the local Gram-sansad meetings, attendance in gram sabha and submission of regular audit reports. The entire accounting system is computerised and vigil is maintained on how fundsare spent on time.Introduction of IT, Grievance Management Cell and GIS in the grassroots level have given the necessary boost to the panchayat system of functioning.

A delegate team comprising representatives from ten different states headed by joint secretary Aparajita Sarengi came on an official visit to the state to find out how the state government has succeeded in creating rural employment. The team visited different blocks in the districts of East Burdwan, West Burdwan, Bankura, Purulia and Birbhum to survey implementation of the Union rural employment scheme. The team included senior officials from the Panchayati Raj and Village Development Ministry from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnatak, Bihar, Telengana, Jammu-Kashmir, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh. And needless to say they were all impressed.