Convention focuses on liquor-free, party-free panchayat polls

Bhubaneswar, Sep 18: With the ensuing panchayat elections less than five months away, People’s Organisations, a forum of several civil
society groups, on Sunday urged people to vote for candidates who would promise
to ensure a ban on liquor in their panchayats.
It also stressed that the ultimate decision making power must lie with
the Gram Sabha and demanded more financial strength and autonomy for the
Ahead of the panchayat elections, the Lok Shakti Abhiyan organised a
convention and discussed about a proactive and efficient panchayats in Odisha.
Advocating a ban on liquor, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan
said, “People’s movements have been at the forefront of opposing forcible land
acquisition and corporate loot of natural resources and a similar movement
needs to be mounted to oppose the debilitating effects of the liquor mafia.”
“Women are leading the struggle for a liquor ban as they are the ones who
suffer the most from this indiscriminate business that sends families into
crushing debt,” said Samantara.
He urged social activists and leaders from across the State to prevent
political party interference to ensure that the power is firmly in the hands of
people’s representatives and not vested interests in the rural polls.
said Gram Sabhas in Scheduled Areas are the ultimate decision making
bodies as outlined in PESA Act and this should to be the basis of all
development planning.

Representatives of various people’s organisations, Amulya Nayak of
Adivasi Chetna Sangathan, Manorama from Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti,
Lingaraj of Swaraj Abhiyan, senior journalist Rabi Das, Padma Charan Nayak,
leaders of Nasamukti Andolan participated in the day-long convention and shared
their views on the need of liquor free panchayat and more financial powers to
sarpanch and Gram Sabha.

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