The uncertainty over fiscal empowerment of India's panchayati raj institutions (pris) continues to deepen. At a national consultative seminar, held in Kolkata on July 24-25, the Union ministry of panchayati raj affairs (mopra) decided to undertake an eight-month long nation-wide survey of the funding pattern, functions and functionaries of these local bodies. This was the first of a series of seven meets to be held by mopra to pave the way for amending the Panchayati Raj Act for effective decentralisation of power. The proposed amendments include ensuring direct funding of pris from the Union government and making the gram sabha the nodal decision-making body.
It was being hoped that the amendments would be placed for voting before the Parliament by the end of this year. But at the Kolkata meet, the 27 participant states failed to arrive at a consensus on the amendments. Therefore, following the survey, a status report would be prepared only by March 2005 to evaluate the structural and legislative changes needed in the Act.
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