Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh government on Friday formally devolved powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), giving a shot in the arm of grassroots democracy in the northeastern state, officials said.

The formal devolution of powers to the panchayat bodies was made by adopting the SPICE (Sustainable, Participative, Inclusive, Comprehensive and Empowerment) model to make the PRIs self-governing entities.

The state cabinet had on September 30 agreed for “genuine” devolution of powers to the PRIs as per the 73rd Constitutional amendment and 11th Schedule of the Constitution in 29 subjects.

Accordingly, 10 per cent of state-owned revenues (SoR) would be devolved to the PRIs, which would come into effect from the next financial year. This will be in addition to the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) grants, officials of the Panchayati Raj Department said.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu, while formally launching the initiative, said that the state government, after studying the models of various states, worked out the SPICE model.

“Fund allocation will be based on population and area in a 50:50 ratio. While 70 per cent will be basic grants, 30 per cent will be performance-based,” he said.

Observing that the PRIs need to improve their performance to avail funds, he urged the panchayat chiefs to get familiarised with the system.

“Fifteen of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) recommended by the United Nations are effective in the state. PRIs have to perform to achieve the SDGs. There will be green and gender budgets within the Zilla Parishad Fund,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein called the day “historic”, while Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Bamang Felix said the panchayat elections had got delayed due to COVID-19. Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar urged the department to train the panchayat members for their capacity development.

The first panchayat election in the then North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) was held in 1969. The first poll to the three-tier PRIs was conducted in 2003 as per the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992.

The state government then amended the three-tier system to a two-tier one, with panchayat and Zilla Parishad. The first election in this system was held on December 22 last year.

Arunachal Pradesh has 8,151 Gram Panchayat members and 241 Zilla Parishad members. Of them, 2,215 are gram panchayat chairpersons, and 25 are Zilla Parishad chairpersons.

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