Speaking at the inaugural function of a three-day Workshop on Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj – Vision 2026, Khandu said the process of devolution of powers to PRIs will begin from the forthcoming budget session of the state Legislative Assembly.
He admitted that despite conscious efforts, the state government has failed so far in devolving powers and functions in right earnest to the PRIs.
He informed an Empowered Committee under the leadership of the Chief Secretary will be constituted, which will extensively study success stories of PRIs in other states and recommend the state government on devolution of powers and functions.
Delving on the history of PRIs in the state, which began in 1969 under the then North East Frontier Agency Panchayat Raj Regulation (Regulation 3 of 1967) after the Daying Ering Committee submitted its recommendations to the Centre for local self-governance in the then NEFA administration, he said the last election held in 2013 was under the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act, 1997, which was based on the 73rd Amendment Act, 1992 of the Constitution.
“The recent decision to go for a two-tier PR system in place of the in-practice three-tier was taken in compliance with Part IX of the Constitution that allows states with population of less than 20 lakh to have a two-tier system without the ‘intermediate level’ that is the Anchal Samiti,” he informed.
Arunachal Pradesh has a population of about 14 lakhs as per the 2011 census.
Addressing the newly elected Zila Parishad Chairpersons (ZPCs) and Zilla Parishad Members (ZPMs), for whom the workshop is being organized, Khandu said the onus of making the state ‘aatmnirbhar’ now lies on them – the PRIs.
Reiterating the state’s potential in hydropower, tourism, agri-horti, mines and minerals, orchids, etc, he said, “You name it, we have it! With so much potential it’s high time that we stop depending solely on the Centre and stand on our own feet.”
This, he asserted, can only be achieved if every citizen, in their respective posts or roles in the society, contributes positively by sincerely doing their jobs with responsibility.
“As grass-root leaders, your job is to think and work for your ‘zila’ and ‘gram’. If you are sincere, honest and determined, each ‘gram’ will develop, each ‘zila’ will develop, our state will develop and our country will develop,” he said.
He also called upon the local self-governance leaders to leave ‘party politics’ behind and work together for their ‘zilas’ and ‘grams’.
“Take politics as a profession, not as a reason for enmity, discord or dissent. The duty of ‘opposition’ is not to oppose everything but to proactively participate in developmental works. Now that elections are over, let’s work together as Team Arunachal,” he said.
Hailing the large presence of women PRI members, Khandu underscored the importance of their role in successful functioning of zila parishads and gram panchayats.
“Women are more aware of their surroundings, needs of the society and ills of the society. Therefore, their active participation in decision making at the gram and zila levels are of utmost significance,” he pointed.
Khandu particularly asked for mass awareness against polygamy, which has in fact infested tribal communities since decades.“Let us forget the past. We cannot undo the done, but it is our duty to ensure that polygamy is not practiced by our future generations,” he urged.
Panchayati Raj Minister Bamang Felix informed that the workshop was planned and fixed days before even the PRI election was conducted. He said the state government was serious in empowering the PRIs and therefore arranged this workshop to equip the members with the tools and knowledge to effectively discharge their duties at the ground in their respective jurisdictions.
“It’s just 13 days since you all took oaths. This shows our commitment to empower you all and make PRIs a very prominent and strong tool for development of the state,” he said.