The Maharashtra government has decided to organise Bal Sabhas in every village on April 24, Panchayati Raj Day, to provide 11 to 18 years old children a platform to express their views and participate in the Panchayati Raj system, an official said. According to an official statement, every gram panchayat is to organise Bal Sabhas, presided by a sarpanch to discuss issues concerning them and to hear their opinions and take necessary decisions.
The notification issued by the state rural development department on April 8 has listed concerns such as child marriage, child labour, issues that emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, child rights and its implementation, government schemes, children’s participation in the decision-making process as per the 15th Finance Commission and their say in spending 10 per cent of the funds and creating child-friendly atmosphere in villages for their growth.
According to the official statement, Bal Sabhas and Bal Panchayats were organised in the pilot gram panchayats in Chandrapur, Latur and Nandurbar districts. Later, the programme was scaled at block-level in Chandrapur and Nandurbar.
According to Rajesh Kumar, rural development department’s additional chief secretary, the government has been emphasising on ensuring that the children’s voices are heard and accounted for. “The state government had already made participation of children mandatory in the village-level planning process. With this decision to have Bal Sabhas in all panchayats on Panchayati Raj Divas, we are taking another step forward in mainstreaming platforms for children to influence the village development process in line with state policy for children,” the official said in the statement.
With inputs from PTI.
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