Ward Secretariat system in Andhra Pradesh is against the spirit of Constitution, says CAG

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The Village Secretariat system is against the spirit of the Constitution, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in its report on the efficacy of implementation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, tabled in the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly on Monday.

In its report, the CAG said that the Ward Committees were not formed in the State. Instead, the State government introduced (in July 2019) the system of Ward Secretariats with an intention of decentralised governance. “The Ward Secretariats were formed without participation of elected representatives at the ward-level. Thus, formation of Ward Secretariats at the ward-level without formation of ward committees diluted the spirit of the Constitution as envisaged for local self-governance,” the CAG said, adding, “We recommend that the government should form Ward Committees and integrate Ward Secretariats with Ward Committees and Area Sabhas to realise self-governance.”

Out of 18 functions, the Andhra Pradesh government devolved 13 functions fully and three functions partially to municipal corporations and devolved only seven functions fully and five functions partially to municipalities/ nagar panchayats. Out of devolved functions also, all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) had the full functional role in five functions only.

“The powers to assess, recruit and devise the service conditions of the staff in ULBs is retained completely by the State government. Hence, there is no autonomy for ULBs in the matter of human resources. The ULBs lacked adequate manpower as 20% of sanctioned posts were vacant in test-checked ULBs, affecting efficient service delivery. ULBs were largely dependent on outsourced staff for service delivery. We recommend that the State  government may delegate adequate powers to ULBs to assess and recruit required staff to ensure efficient service delivery,” the report said.

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