Puducherry, Aug 12 (PTI): Voicing concern over lack of elected local bodies in Puducherry, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi today told the government “to be serious about rural development and remove technical impediments to holding Panchayat polls for holistic development.” She said she felt sorry that the present system of having Commune Panchayat Commissioners with “thin staff and no resources is leading to neglect of rural Puducherry.” In a message circulated to reporters through WhatsApp, the former IPS officer contended that the government should focus on rural development “by creating grass-root people’s accountability by their participation.” “How else will issues like sand smuggling, water harvesting, open defection-free programme, skill development, parents teachers associations’ activities, school education, desilting of water bodies, empowerment of youth and self-help groups happen in Puducherry,” she asked the administration.

Bedi said that if the government “is serious about rural development it must take initiatives to remove technical impediments to holding Panchayat elections.” All political parties “need to come together on this if they want long term benefit of Puducherry. This would also check migration (of people) to urban areas and save agriculture too,” she added.

The Lt Governor said the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act could also be more effective and lasting assets could be created with systematic oversight.

“All this requires collective political will and bureaucratic support in implementation. I am sorry I am not seeing this on ground. It is not a criticism but a concern.

Seeking funds from the government would be easy once we have Panchayat systems in place,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bedi who is now in Delhi called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

She wrote on her Twitter handle that she apprised the Home Minister of issues in the Union Territory and “what we need to do to improve matters for the good of Puducherry.” She, however, did not elaborate on what issues she brought to the notice of the union minister.

Bedi has been at loggerheads with the Congress-led ministry on various issues resulting in strong reactions from Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Welfare Minister M Kandasamy on the issue relating to development of port here.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.