The 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution paves the way for the popularly elected local governments to play a substantive role in matters of immediate concern. The amendment envisions the Panchayats as the institutions of local self-governance. In this context, the role of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in both disaster risk reduction and post-disaster management is very significant.
PRI’s and Disaster Management
- The system of 2,60,512 Panchayati Raj Institutions present across the country, acts as the backbone of Indian democracy. It is a local self-governance system which represents about 31 lakh members across India.
- Amid the peak months of the pandemic, the PRIs played a remarkable role by providing essential leadership at the local level.
- PRIs set up containment zones, arranged transport, identified buildings for quarantining people and provisioned food for the incoming migrants.
- Moreover, effective implementation of welfare schemes like MGNREGA and the National Rural Livelihood Mission quickened the pace of recovery while ensuring support to the vulnerable population. During the pandemic, gram sabhas resolved to adhere to Covid-19 norms.
- Organised Local Monitoring Bodies: PRIs organised community-based surveillance systems involving village elders, the youth and self-help groups (SHGs) to keep a strict vigil in quarantine centres and monitor symptoms in households.
- The devolution of power and responsibilities to the panchayats will result in flexible and committed response at the grass- root level in the case of natural calamities. The devolution of power and responsibilities to the panchayats will result in flexible and committed response at the grass- root level in the case of natural calamities.
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