30 Nov : The Andhra Pradesh government on Sunday has disbursed Rs 146-crore as incentive to 2924 gram panchayats that elected their sarpanches unanimously.Panchayats with a population less than 5000 got Rs five lakh each while major panchayats got Rs 15 lakh each.
Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s home district Kadapa was the biggest beneficiary under the scheme wherein 305 out of 804 panchayats elected their sarpanches unopposed in the Panchayat Raj elections held in August 2006.
Giving away the awards, Rajasekhara Reddy asked the sarpanches to focus their attention mainly on sanitation and cleanliness in villages to prevent spread of diseases.
"Prevent defecation and keep the villages tidy. This will ensure reduction in spread of various diseases by 90 percent," the Chief Minister said.
He also wanted the sarpanches to set up drinking water bottling units in each village to supply safe drinking water to the people.
"Each unit will cost about Rs 2-3 lakh and bottled water to be supplied to each household at Rs 50 a month. Don’t depend on water from public taps and borewells as it is not totally safe," Reddy added.
Referring to complaints that husbands of some women sarpanches were acting as de facto village heads and wielding authority, the Chief Minister said unless women asserted themselves there could not be real empowerment.
"Some women sarpanches are doing well on their own and making a mark. But some are allowing their husbands to run the show. This should not be allowed," he said.
The Chief Minister promised to enhance the honorarium of village sarpanches by 50 percent soon.
Though the Chief Minister was expected to make some announcement on devolution of powers to the panchayats as enshrined in the Constitution, no such thing came forth.
State ministers K Rosaiah, J C Diwaker Reddy, Galla Aruna, Pinnamaneni Venkateswara Rao, Maganti Babu and senior officials were present in the function.