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October 30, 2013

Bengal Shines in Rural Development, Earns World Bank`s Praise

Bengal Shines in Rural Development, Earns World Bank`s Praise

World Bank has recognised the exceptionally good performance of the state in rural development and invited the state Panchayat minister, Mr Subrata Mukherjee, and Panchayat Secretary Sourav Das to their headquarters in US. They have received invitations following the department`s successful performance in implementing the Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayat (ISGP) project.

Mr Mukherjee said that he has intimated this matter to the Chief Minister and they are waiting for her approval. He also added that he would propose for the inclusion of 1,000 more GPs in the ISGP scheme if they visit Washington.

“The World Bank provides performance-based incentive grants to the 1,000 gram panchayats participating in the project on per capita population ratio for expenditure on local public goods and services on the basis of an Annual Performance Assessment (APA). The APA process, undertaken between August and October 2013 by an external consultancy firm, showed that 960 GPs have qualified on the basis of their performance, compared to the 792 which had qualified last year,“ Mr Mukherjee added.

Mr Onno Ruhl, the country director of World Bank, India had addressed a letter to the chief secretary appreciating the steady progress made in the project. The parametres had been training and enhancement of capacity to do work. “As a mark of appreciation, the World Bank has allowed the extension of capacity building support to 1,211 new GPs. The breakdown for it is 207 GPs in Hooghly, 150 GPs in North 24-Parganas, 170 GPs in South 24-Parganas and 684 non-ISGPP GPs of the existing nine districts. These would start functioning by the last quarter of 2013-14,“ he said.

On an average, each qualified GP would receive an amount of Rs 30.64 lakh as block grants for the implementation of planned activities for the financial year 2014-15. This year, out of the GPs of nine districts – Bankura, Birbhum, Burdwan, Cooch Behar, South Dinajpur, Howrah, Nadia, West Midnapore and East Midnapore – the highest amount of block grant, totaling Rs 70.4 lakh, has been allocated to Duttaphulla Gram Panchayat of Ranaghat – II block of Nadia district.

Mr Mukherjee said that in the mid-term review undertaken by a team from World Bank in September 2013, which included field visits in the project districts, desk reviews and workshops with stakeholders, progress was rated as satisfactory. 

 ISGP scheme had been launched in 2010 to help make gram panchayats a stronger institution, capable of an enhanced level of quality of service delivery and inclusive growth to cater to the needs of rural citizens of the state.

The article was originally published in The Statesman on October 30, 2013