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December 28, 2015

World Bank acclaims Bengal’s Panchayat development programme

West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee’s unique CMOto-BDO model is bearing fruits. In a bid to fast-track development work, the Chief Minister has held more than one hundred “administrative meetings” in districts state-wide to sidestep the bureaucratic trappings which often delay work.

World Bank in its report on the state for development of panchayats – considered an indicator for decentralized governance – has said that Bengal has made progress on several parameters.

In 2010, World Bank had provided a loan of $200 million to the state to improve the effectiveness of service delivery by gram panchayats, the lowest level of decentralized governance in the country. The West Bengal Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayats Project is designed to strengthen the institutional capacity of the panchayats in the state.The project was aimed at adding to the resources of 1,000 gram panchayats in nine districts.

In order to access the funds, the gram panchayats had to meet some minimum mandatory conditions and performance criteria. In April 2011, out of 1,000 gram panchayats, only 482 had qualified for minimum mandatory conditions. “By December, the number scaled up to 797. The performance was such that World Bank agreed to grant loans to 3,550 panchayats in Bengal,” State Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said.