Unproductive DPDBs


The District Planning and Development Boards (DPDBs) are the most important basic units of development in the State. The DPDB, as they are called, float and monitor the entire programme of development of the districts. Therefore, the development of a district depends on to what extent its Planning & Development Board is effective and pragmatic in implementing various plans and schemes of the Government. Usually, an elected member, who is the chairman, or the District Deputy Commissioner, who is the vice chairman, presides over the monthly board meetings in which the entire gamut of development is discussed and planned. The practice is that all Department Heads in the district, who are all members of the board, attend DPDB meetings. These meetings take crucial decisions about district level plans. However as per numerous reports, the DPDB meeting is encountering serious obstructions, which could have adverse affect on the developmental activities in the districts. It has been reported that many important officers including District head of departments, etc, have developed the habit of skipping these meeting for one or the other reason. Sometimes such officers, according to reports, delegate junior officers to represent the department in such meetings. It should be understood that the District HoDs are very responsible officers and without their presence, no proper assessment of the progress of development can be made. After all, the Head of the Department has the competence to brief the meeting on the level of progress made in the district in particular field pertaining to his department. There are reports that District Deputy Commissioners have lodged complaints that the meetings of the District Planning & Development Boards have almost become a joke because of absence of many important senior Government officers. Now, the absence of important Government functionaries conveys the impression that they are not serious about the development of the districts and that they consider other business more important and urgent than attending the DPDB meetings. This is most unbecoming on the part of errant bureaucrats. Day in and day out, there are reports of many important and major developmental schemes sanctioned and sponsored by the Centre unable to keep the time schedule. They fall behind by several years. There are instances that senior officers come to know of closure of schemes much later after the schemes are actually closed or deferred. We have read reports of how in every DPDB meetings, the chairman reminds the District heads of office of the importance to attend the board meetings regularly and that action would be taken against the officers not attending it. In fact one can say that the absentee officers are undermining the institution of DPDB by skipping the meetings without any plausible reason. While it is not known whether any explanations have been sought from such erring top officers, it is time that the authorities issue directives for sending warning notes to such officers for mending their ways in future. Such officers need to be warned that they will face the music, as the Government cannot effort to allow slackness of the officers to create roadblocks in meeting the aspirations of the common masses. Obviously, if a Head of the Department fails to present himself at the crucial occasion of the board meeting, much important feedback on ongoing projects remains withheld from the committee. If crucial issue like construction of bridges, improvement of roads, creation of infrastructure, installation of HT/LT lines, poles, transformers, development of sports infrastructure, provision of basic amenities like drinking water and regular power supply, deployment of adequate manpower in public dealing Government offices and proper infrastructure and many more are deferred, it brings disappointment to the people. In democracy, the administration is answerable to the people and the people are unsparing. There is a time when people expect their difficulties are mitigated. By going against the expectations of the people, these senior officers are creating embarrassing situation for themselves and for the Government. Perhaps it is time that the new Government take action by replacing the defaulting officers with more duty conscious and people caring officers from the cadres who will take their job of attending and contributing to the board review meetings very seriously.