Even as the issue of reservations for zilla panchayat polls continues to ruffle many feathers, sarpanchas have sought devolution of adequate powers to the local bodies.
Drawing attention to the fact that zilla panchayat members play a key role in development at the grassroots level, Taleigao sarpanch Agnelo D’Cunha said that the ZPs perform various community works, help self-help groups, provide equipment and develop religious places.
D’Cunha also reiterated that ZP members shoulder a major responsibility adding, “I would appreciate if more funds and powers are allocated to ZPs to allow them to carry out more developmental works like improvement of schools, temples and the welfare of society.’’
Another sarpanch on conditions of anonymity said that the role of ZPs in village politics is limited as they possess few powers and get inadequate funds and as such they carry out little developmental works adding, “They are also under pressure to remain in the good books of sarpanchas and MLAs so as to carry out development works with their blessings.”
Yet another sarpanch claimed that once elected ZP members “disappear” and reappear once their term comes to an end.
Another sarpanch informed that MLA, ZP and sarpanchas work in tandem and ZPs are very active till their term expires and then vie to become MLAs adding, “They take up developmental works also and become very popular politicians. Most of time, ZPs work only for the benefit of MLAs to allow them develop a vote bank or for the party to which they belong.”
“If panchayats, Zilla Parishad and MLAs work in tandem they can work wonders since ZPs concentrate mostly on community works like beautification, help self-help groups and conduct other social works,’’ another sarpanch claimed.