Ministry of Panchayati Raj organises National Webinar on Atmanirbhar Panchayats in commemoration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav

New Delhi: As the Nation is celebrating 75 years of Independence as ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is undertaking several activities and initiatives to uphold the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in the light of the fact that the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ could only be achieved if the Panchayati Raj Institutions of the country become self-dependent in all aspects, said Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj. Thus, it would be apt to say that only ‘Atmanirbhar Panchayats’ can lay the foundation for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj delivered a keynote address while declaring open of a day-long National Webinar with the theme ‘Atmanirbhar Panchayats – Role of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Harnessing Energy in Achieving Self-reliance for Sustainable Development’. Today’s Webinar is the sixth in a series of National Webinars organized by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in commemoration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav since its nationwide launch on 12 March 2021.

Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj said that role of modern technology, entrepreneurship and energy self-sufficiency is going to play an essential part in the making of ‘Atmanirbhar Panchayat’. Panchayats should be made aware of new technologies which are cost-effective, tested and useful so that their benefits could reach the last mile and our Panchayats can become Economic Growth Centres and Demand Centres. Panchayats can serve as a bridge between the IIT’s Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) like institutions and the villages.

With regard to the conceptualization of National Webinar on Atmanirbhar Panchayats – Role of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Harnessing Energy in Achieving Self-reliance for Sustainable Development, Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj said that today’s National Webinar is yet another important initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj towards bringing greater self-reliance in the Panchayati Raj Institutions.

While delivering the keynote address at the National Webinar, Shri Sunil Kumar, emphasized that technology will have a major role to play in improving the ease of living and standard of living for citizens in rural areas, which is one of the key goals of the Government of India. People are willing to accept the technology and technological interventions if they are made to understand in their own languages.

Exhorting Panchayati Raj Institutions to actively participate in Good Governance Week (20 – 25 December 2021) with theme Prashasan Gaon Ki Aur (प्रशासन गाँवों की ओर), Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj underlined that Good Governance with an ingredient of technology and e-Governance makes the Government at various levels transparent, accountable, responsive and efficient, and all Government employees and public representatives are expected to play a pivotal role in promoting the cause of Good Governance and help in bringing transparency and accountability in the systems. Better governance can make sure technology works for everyone and also for addressing the multi-dimensions of unemployment in rural areas. Technologies hold great promise for improving government effectiveness in the delivery of fast, better and efficient citizen services to the local residents at the basic unit of local self-government.

While making opening remarks, Dr. C. S. Kumar, Additional Secretary said that the theme of the Good Governance Week and the theme of the Webinar are also in sync. Keeping up with a rapidly changing technology landscape, Panchayats have to provide leadership, play the role of bridge and also contribute to the issues of national and international importance like energy self-sufficiency, climate change, carbon zero climate pledge, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals etc. Opening remarks were made by Shri (Dr.) Bijaya Kumar Behera.

The National Webinar was attended by all senior officers of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Department of Panchayati Raj of States and Union Territories, State Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (SIRD&PRs). A large number of elected representatives and functionaries of Panchayati Raj Institutions joined the National Webinar remotely through VC link as well as NIC Webcast link. People joined the National Webinar from centres of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan as well.

Technical Session I on ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan: moving towards achieving Panchayat self-sufficiency in Localised Renewable Energy and sustainable rural development’ was co-chaired by Prof. P. M. V. Subbarao, Head, CRDT, IIT Delhi and Prof. Virendra Kumar Vijay, Professor, CRDT, IIT Delhi & National Coordinator, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, Ministry of Education whereas Technical Session II on ‘Atmanirbhar Panchayats as instruments of economic development in rural areas through Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship’ was moderated by Shri Khushwant Singh Sethi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

All the speakers shared their ideas, opinions and experiences regarding remarkable work done for proving technological solutions to requirements of daily needs and day-to-day lives. Detailed Presentation was made by Ministry of Power [Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)], Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT–Delhi) during the Webinar.

During the first technical session, a presentation on the Role of Technologies in rural areas for a Gram Urja Swaraj, a carbon-neutral society for AtmaNirbhar Bharat was made by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT–Delhi). The idea of energy self-sufficiency in rural areas is inspired by Mahatma Gandhiji’s vision of “Gram Swaraj” that “Every village should be its own republic, independent of its neighbours for its own vital wants and yet interdependent for many others in which dependence is necessary”. Gram Urja Swaraj aims to develop an area-based micro-level integrated system of Renewable Energy Technologies that would be able to meet the local energy requirements of villages, considering the constraints in supply, socio-economic factors and the requirements for different end-uses by tapping different locally available biomass resources.

Presentation on Carbon Neutrality – Village Energy Systems and Income Generation Opportunities was made by Prof. (Dr.) P. V. Aravind, Chair of Energy Conversion, University of Groningen and Negative Emission Program, TU Delft Climate Institute, The Netherlands. Presentation on PM-KUSUM was made by Shri Shobhit Srivastava, Scientist D, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). PM-KUSUM (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) Scheme is aimed at ensuring energy security for farmers in India, along with honouring India’s commitment to increase the share of installed capacity of electric power from non-fossil-fuel sources to 40% by 2030 as part of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Shri Shobhit Srivastava demonstrated the vision of the Ministry on ‘New National Biogas and Organic Manure Programme’ and other Schemes and initiatives for rural masses.

Presentation on Efforts in the field of Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation in Rural Areas was made by Shri Abhay Bakre, Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Ministry of Power, Government of India. Presentation on “Ways and Means to Achieve Carbon Neutrality: Agri/Biological and Engineering Interventions” was made by Dr. P. V. Unnikrishnan, Member-Secretary, Kerala Development and Innovation Strategy Council, (K-DISC), Government of Kerala and Shri Girigan Gopi, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Wayanad, Kerala.

Presentation on Atmanirbhar Village through Sustainable Waste Management was made by Shri Gajanan Patil, Urja Bio System, Pune, Maharashtra. Presentation on “Solar Revolution: Continuous Illumination” was made by Smt. Zahera Naseem, Chief Executive Officer, Zilla Panchayat, Bidar, Karnataka. Presentation on “Carbon Neutrality Experiences of Meenangadi Gram Panchayat and Bathery Block Panchayat” was shared by Smt. Beena Vijayan, Former President, Meenangadi & Member, Sulthan Bathery Block Panchayath, Kerala. Presentation on “Atmanirbhar Panchayat – A Case study on Odanthurai Panchayat under Coimbatore District in Tamil Nadu” was made by Smt. Madhura, Assistant Director Audit along with Shri G. Thangavel, President and Shri R. Shanmugam, Ex-President, Odanthurai Gram Panchayat.

In the second technical session on Atmanirbhar Panchayats as instruments of economic development in rural areas through Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship, presentations on the innovative ways of implementation of technologies in the rural part of the Nation were made by Smt. (Dr.) Ketaki Bapat, Senior Scientist, Office of Principal Scientific Adviser and Shri (Dr.) Sanket, Professor, IIT Mumbai. Shri (Dr.) B. K. Ray, Director, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship made a presentation on the ‘SANKALP’ program which will give a direction in providing the right skill for the right section of the rural society. Shri Satish Sharma, Joint Director, Department of Panchayati Raj, Government of Himachal Pradesh, Smt. Suchitra Jana Pramanik, Gram Pradhan and Shri Suvra Kanti Jana, Secretary, Pratapadityanagar Gram Panchayat, South 24 Parganas District, West Bengal, Smt. Archana Bhoyar, President of Kalamb Mahila Producer Company, Maharashtra, along with Smt. Prajakta Gedman from Navnirman Mahila Gram Sangh, Aklara village, Maharashtra, and representatives from Perinjanam and Kanjikuzhy Gram Panchayats from Kerala made presentations and shared their models of economic development in rural areas through rural technology and entrepreneurship.