Participating with me in this programmeare Panchayati Raj Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar ji, hon’ble chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Haryana’s Deputy Chief Minister, Panchayati Raj ministers from states, Rural Development Ministers, all the people's representatives belonging to gram panchayats across the country. As Narendra Singh ji has just mentioned, about 5 crore people have registered themselves for the programme. The participation of such a large number of villages in this programme gives strength to the steps towards village development. My respectful Namaskar to all these five crore brothers and sisters!
Brothers and sisters,
The Panchayati Raj Day is an important occasion to rededicate ourselves to the pledge of redevelopment of rural India. This is a day to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions and extraordinary work of our Gram Panchayats.
I have got the opportunity to honour and award the Panchayats which have done commendable work in the development of the villages. I extend my best wishes to all of you on the 'Panchayati Raj Diwas'. Recently, Panchayat elections have been held in many states and are also underway in a lot of states, so today we have many new colleagues with us. I also convey my best wishes to all the new representatives of people.
Today, a very important SWAMITVA Scheme,that gives legal documents to the village and the poor, has also been implemented all over the country. Property cards have also been issued to several colleagues where the scheme was launched last year. I also congratulate and wish all my colleagues who have been involved in this work and have tried to carry forward it in a time bound manner.The SWAMITVA scheme is going to give a new impetus to the confidence, mutual trust and development of the poor in villages. I also congratulate all the countrymen for this.
When we met for Panchayati Raj Day last year, the entire country was battling Corona. Then I had urged all of you to play your part in preventing Corona from reaching villages. Not only did all of you prevent Corona from reaching villages, you also played a big role in spreading awareness in villages. The challenge that we face this year is bigger as we do not have to allow this infection to enter villages under any circumstances.
You will achieve success with enthusiasm and discipline this time also the way you worked hard last year and the leadership shown by villages of the country because you have the experience of one year. You have all the details regarding the crisis and how to avoid it. And, therefore, I am confident that all the people of my country and villages will be able to prevent Corona from entering villages and will also make perfect arrangements. We will have to ensure complete implementation of guidelines that are being issued from time to time.
This time we have a shield of vaccine. Therefore, we have to take every precaution and also ensure that every person in the village is given both doses of vaccines. The Indian government is currently vaccinating every person above the age of 45 years free of cost in every state of the country. Now, from May 1, the process of vaccinating people above the age of 18 years is about to begin. This vaccination campaign will be successful only with the help of all of you.
It is also our responsibility that no family should go hungry in this difficult time. Yesterday itself, the Indian government decided to extend the free ration scheme under the PradhanmantriGareeb Kalyan Yojana. Every poor person in the country will get free ration in the months of May and June. The scheme will benefit 80 crore beneficiaries and the Centre will spend more than 26,000 crore rupees for the purpose.
This ration belongs to the poor, it belongs to the country. We have to ensure that every grain of food reaches the families who need it in a timely manner and I am confident that the state governments and our Panchayat colleagues will discharge their duty very well.
Your role as a people's representative of Gram Panchayats is to strengthen democracy and fulfill the aspirations of the villages. Our villages have been important centres of India's development and self-reliance. Revered Mahatma Gandhi ji would say: "With self-reliance, I mean villages that are self-reliant to meet their basic needs. But being self-reliant does not mean that we should be bound by our limits." The thoughts of Bapu are so clear that we have to take our villages forward on the path of development by exploring new opportunities and possibilities.
The impact of SWAMITVA Yojana is visible within just one year in the six states where it was launched. Under the scheme, the entire village properties are surveyed by drone and property cards are distributed to the owners. Today more than four lakh people have been given ‘e-property cards’ in 5,000 villages. The scheme has infused a new confidence and security in the villages.
A host of apprehensions are removed when somebody has the map of his house or property documents in his hands. Not only has there been reduction in real estate disputes in the villages, there have been cases where family disputes have also been settled. It has also led to an end of corruption and exploitation of the poor and Dalits. Several court cases are also coming to a close. Those who have got their land documents are also finding it easier to take loans from banks.
There is another special aspect of the SWAMITVA Yojana. Under it, a complete map of each village is prepared after the drone survey. This map will help Panchayats to carry out development work in the villages with a vision and in a systematic manner. I would urge all the Sarpanches to take it forward with utmost sincerity so that the villages develop systematically.
In a way, this scheme will ensure security of the poor section and planned development of villages and their economy. I would request the States to sign MoU with the Survey of India at the earliest. There are several states where land laws need to be changed. I suggest the states to ensure that nobody should face any problem in accessing bank loans once he has all the property documents. I would also like to appeal to the banks to ensure easy credit by preparing a format of property card that is easily acceptable for loan formalities.All the Panchayat representatives will also have to work with the local administration to coordinate and provide accurate information to the villagers.
The progress and culture of our country has always been led by our villages. That is why the government is keeping villages at the centre of all its policies and initiatives.Our effort is that villages of modern India should be capable and self-reliant. For this, the role of Panchayats is being enhanced and new powers are being given to them. The work of connecting every village with fibre net is also progressing at a rapid pace to make Panchayats digital.
Today, Panchayats have been entrusted with the responsibility of a major scheme like Jal Jeevan Mission to provide pure water to every household. We have carried forward this great task with your responsibility and participation. Today, the massive campaign from employment in villages to providing pucca houses to the poor is going ahead through Gram Panchayats.
The role of Panchayats has also been enhanced in setting priorities for the development of villages and the decisions related to them. The country is also expecting you to think about your village, speed up development according to the wishes and expectations of the village, and, therefore, the country is also giving you resources. Several powers related to many expenditures of the village are being given directly to the Panchayats. We are making efforts so that you don’t have to go to government offices unnecessarily for small needs. For example, the cash prizes given here today have been directly credited to the bank accounts of Panchayats.
The Government of India has allocated more than 2.25 lakh crore rupees to the Panchayats. Such a huge amount of money was never given to Panchayats before. With this money, cleanliness in the villages should be ensured and efforts should be made to provide clean drinking water and to improve health services. But when so much money goes for the development of the village, then villagers will also expect that there should be transparency in everything. This expectation is from you and you will be the one who will have this responsibility.
The Panchayati Raj Ministry has made arrangements of online payment through ‘e-Gram Swaraj’. Now all payments will be made through the Public Finance Management System (PFMS). Similarly, online audits will ensure transparency and responsibility in expenditure. I am happy that many Panchayats have linked themselves. I would request all the Panchayat Pradhans of the country to join it at the earliest if not done so far.
We are heralding the 75th year of Independence this year. We have to keep the wheel of development moving in the face of challenges. You also fix goals for your village’s development and fulfil them within a given time frame.For example, you can launch a campaign on cleanliness, water conservation, nutrition, vaccination, education etc in the Gram Sabha. You can set water conservation targets in villages. Similarly, you can set targets as to how to improve groundwater levels in your village. You can also work to free farming from chemical fertilizers, encourage crops which require less water and motivate Per Drop, More Crop.
All of you should take this responsibility to ensure that all the village children, especially the daughters, go to school and no one should drop out in the middle. You must contribute as to how the Gram Panchayat can help poor children with regard to online education. In the Mission Antyodaya Survey, every Gram Panchayat should set targets to address the needs of the villages and the shortcomings that arise.
In the present circumstances, the mantra of Panchayats should be 'Medicine as well as strictness'. And I am confident that the first winner in the battle of Corona is going to be the village and the people living in the villages. The villagers are going to show the way to the country and the world. This is my trust in you because of last year's experience. And I'm sure you'll do it well. This is your specialty that you do it in a very pleasing environment. You also worry that nobody remains hungry and nobody is offended.
May you once again win this battle against Corona as soon as possible and your village becomes corona-free. Once again, I thank you all very much with this belief. I wish you all the very best.
Many many thanks!