19 September, 2020

Put At The Centre Of COVID Fight By Odisha CM, The Sarpanch Remains A Figurehead

The sarpanches, far from enjoying the powers of a collector, are still at the mercy of the local block development officer (BDO) and panchayat extension officer (PEO) for just about everything.

Naveen Patnaik at an online interaction with sarpanches
Put At The Centre Of COVID Fight By Odisha CM, The Sarpanch Remains A Figurehead
outlookindia.com
2020-06-04T14:17:45+05:30

On April 19, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik announced on TV what he described as a “historic decision”. He said his government had put sarpanches (elected heads) of gram panchayats at the centre of the fight against COVID-19, conferring on them the “powers of district collectors” for effective management of quarantine centres for migrant workers returning from other states. This was done vide Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, read with COVID-19 regulations, 2020. A month later, the sarpanches, far from enjoying the powers of a collector, are still at the mercy of the local block development officer (BDO) and panchayat extension officer (PEO) for just about everything. With almost no financial powers, the elected panchayat heads are not even consulted when babus take administrative decisions. Each panchayat has been given Rs 5 lakh for running quarantine centres, but the sarpanches have to run to the PEOs for sanction of every little expense.

“What collector’s powers? The PEO insists on bills...

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