Panchayat functionaries demand allowance hike

Bhubaneswar: The state-level Panchayati Raj day celebration on Saturday was marred by vociferous demands by panchayat representatives from across the state for hike in allowance and setting up development funds for them along the lines of those for MLAs and MPs.

The issue was raised by different unions of panchayat bodies at the function attended by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and other ministers.

Though the demands were initially confined in speechs, it took a different turn when Motilal Hans, a zilla parishad member from backward Nawrangpur district protested against the state government`s `apathy` towards them.

"We work at the grass root level. But our genuine demands are ignored by the government as we work in villages," an angry Hans shouted before being stopped by the security personnel as he and other panchayat representatives rushed towards the dias in order to draw Patnaik`s attention.

The state government had hiked the monthly remmuneration for MLAs to Rs 60,000 from Rs 21,000.

The panchayat representatives protested against senior BJD MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra`s statement that he would request the chief minister to hike allowance of all panchayat functionaries and set up development fund worth Rs one crore for zilla parishads.

"How can Mohapatra suggest setting up development funds for zilla parishad leaving aside panchayat samities and gram panchayats?" they asked.

Panchayati Raj Minister Prafulla Samal tried to pacify them by assuring that the government would consider their demands but to no avail.

Unable to pacify the agitators, Samal blamed the opposition parties saying "I suspect that opposition parties have sent their representaives to disrupt the function here."

Earlier, in their speech Zilla Parishad Chairpersons Union leader Anil Mohapatra, Panchayat Samiti Sangh leader Manas Acharya, Sarpanch Sangh leader Samir Samant, Samiti Member Sangh leader Kalandi Pati, Panchayat Parishad President Jagannath Swain demanded hike in the allowance and perks for 1,6000 the panchayat functionaries in the state.