Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla has asserted that the autonomous district councils (ADCs) hold a pivotal place in the process of local development.
He was addressing the outreach and familiarization programme for the local bodies of Meghalaya and other North Eastern states in Shillong on Friday.
Birla said the programme was to deliberate upon the ways and means to strengthen the functioning of the ADCs and Panchayati Raj institutions at the grass root level.
The speaker also reminded that the prime objective of setting up of the ADCs is to protect the rights of the tribal communities of the North East.
“(It is also) to provide them equal rights in the decision-making process and to ensure that their administration is carried out in accordance with their traditions and conventions,” he said.
He further said, “In fact, ADC functions as a mini legislative body, therefore, the objective of the discussion and dialogue held here, should be to ensure accountability of the executive”.
“You are directly elected by the people; therefore, people should be the focus of all your actions and programmes. You will have to develop necessary systems and procedures to achieve it,” he added.
Asserting that the ADCs play an important role in local development, Birla said their members have full knowledge of the strengths of local areas which can be optimally utilized for their socio-economic development.
“The Union government also intends to give a boost to the local area development through ‘vocal for local’,” he added.
Stating the Act East policy has opened up immense possibilities for the development of North East, the Speaker said, “You need to be prepared to tap the new opportunities to their maximum.”
He further said that local self government is a symbol of both democracy and development as it provides a framework for decentralization of democracy. It strengthens democracy at the grass root level through which citizens get an opportunity to become a stakeholder in the local self government of their area.
Also informing that the government is formulating policies and schemes to make this very “self-reliance” a nationwide phenomenon, the Speaker however said, “But a self-reliant India can only be possible when we are vocal for local”.
“Villages here are capable of formulating a new model of self-reliance and development based on their finest handicrafts, architecture and other art forms which can be supported by the elected local bodies,” he said.
According to him, a number of innovations are being made to bring local government in tune with today’s requirements. The means of information and communication technology (ICT) is also being utilized optimally.
Pointing out that e-Panchayat has been introduced which has brought revolutionary changes n the working of local self government, Birla urged the ADCs and Panchayati Raj institutions to also make maximum use of the means of ICT and digital innovation in its functioning so that the administration could be made more transparent, accountable and accessible to the people.
He further asserted that the ADCs and Panchayati Raj institutions to deliberate upon the developmental programmes encompassing the concept of inclusive growth, cooperation and collectivism and address the issues keeping people at the centre.