Wednesday, April 4, 2012
News Article: Babus dash MBA sarpanch's plans to transform villages
TNN Apr 1, 2012, 05.04AM IST
JAIPUR: The same month last year she spoke at the UN about transforming rural India by ensuring basic facilities like drinking water, electricity, toilets, schools and jobs for the villagers through panchayats.
The youngest and MBA graduate sarpanch of Rajasthan, Chhavi Rajawat on Saturday said the panchayats should be closed down. The reason: petty government officers were not allowing the elected representatives to work. Public utility works were being "deliberately and maliciously" held up in government procedures by 'biased' officers. The rural police, too, were being controlled by such officers.
"Our panchayats are a farce and should be shut down. If an educated sarpanch, especially a woman, can be harassed by these officers then imagine what difficulty an uneducated woman sarpanch or any other sarpanch would be facing," Rajawat, the Tonk district's Soda gram panchayat sarpanch, said at a press conference in the city.
Rajawat gained international recognition when, despite being an MBA graduate having better prospects in the corporate sector, she chose to contest and won the sarpanch election in her village panchayat in 2010. In March 2011, she was invited to speak at the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference at the UN. She was recently named among the young global leaders announced by the World Economic Forum.
Two years into the role of a sarpanch, Rajawat looked hassled by the government babus allegedly blocking her plans to transform the village panchayat. Even interventions sought from chief secretary C K Mathew and district collector Arushi Malik failed to improve the scenario.
The issue that sparked a standoff between her and the government officers related dispute over illegal construction of farm-pond by two of her village residents, Chhitar and Satyanarayan. "This pond has blocked the natural water's inlet into the village water reservoir. The villagers have complained against it, but the local sub-divisional officer (SDO) Prakash Chand Jat not only permitted the construction but also did not let the police to assist the panchayat," alleged Rajawat.
The accused persons, on the other hand, lodged a complaint against Rajawat's father in the matter. The local police are investigating the charges against Rajawat's father. Sources said a cabinet minister and a senior office-bearer of the ruling Congress were influencing the police action. "The case against my father has been filed to demoralize me," the sarpanch said.
On chief secretary Mathew's directions, the district collector recently constituted a three-member committee to probe the dispute. "But the collector has appointed the same SDO, who has sided with the accused, as head of the probe committee. Can his investigation be fair?" Rajawat ask.
Efforts were made to contact collector Malik and SDO Jat for a comment but their mobile phones remained unanswered on Saturday.
Rajawat also pointed out how this SDO frustrated the panchayat's efforts to remove encroachments from the village pasture lands. Another SDO allegedly blocked the panchayat to construct the Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendra. "The high court did not stay this work, but the SDO blocked it. Under Section 109 of the Panchayati Raj Act, no officer can stay the panchayat work without giving it a two month's notice," Rajawat said.
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