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A Gram Panchayat is a local self-government institution at the village or small town level in India and has a Sarpanch as its elected head. Under British Colonial rule, the role of panchayats were strengthened, whereas under post-independence they were given little right of co-determination. After attempts to deal with local matters at the national level, panchayats were reintroduced as institutions of local self-governance in 1992.1 As of 2002dated info there were about 265,000 gram panchayats in India. The gram panchayat is the cornerstone of the panchayati raj system.
The Sarpanch, or elected head, has the responsibilities of
- Maintaining street lights, construction and repair work of roads in villages and also the village markets, fairs, collection of tax, festivals and celebrations.
- Keeping a record of births, deaths and marriages in the village.
- Looking after public health and hygiene by providing facilities for sanitation and drinking water.
- Providing free education.
- To organise the meetings of Gramsabha(ग्रामसभा) and Grampanchayat (ग्रामपंचायत).
A gram panchyat consists of between 7 and 20 members, elected from the wards of the village, and they are called a "panch". People of the village select a panch, with one-eighth of seats reserved for female candidates. To establish a gram panchyat in a village, the population of the village should be at least 500 people of voting age.
The main source of income of the gram panchayat is the property tax levied on buildings and open spaces within the village. Other sources of income include professional tax, taxes on pilgrimage, animal trade, grant received from the State Government in proportion of land revenue and the grants received from the District Councils of India Zilla Parishad.
The gramsevak / gram vikas officer is the communicator in government and village panchayat and works for the sarpanch. The district planning commission (DPC) is also responsible for disbursing cash to the gram panchayat.
Gram sabha(s) includes all the adult citizen voters of the village. It is empowered to support or topple down the gram panchayat body. This gram sabha can contribute to the number of decisions taken by the gram panchayat and can facilitate to modify weak decisions whenever they feel. The gram panchayat can be established for a village having a population more than 750 to 25,000. The villages having less population are grouped under group-gram sabha. The member count usually ranges from 7 to 17 depending on the strength of the village population. These form various Committees, viz. Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Public Works, Social Welfare and Health and sanitation in village Gram Panchayat.bfcncvnvb
According to Sec 6 (3) of APPR ACT, the meeting of a gram sabha should compulsorily be held twice in a year. The Government also notifies the two dates on which the meeting is to be held compulsorily. The gram sabha meeting should be held on every 14 April and 3 October. Conduct of gram sabha twice yearly is a minimum, not maximum - Gram sabha can be convened as and when necessary and as many times as possible, depending on the need. In States like Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Punjab, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh there are statutory provisions to hold the gram sabha two times a year, whereas in states like Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan the gram sabhas are held 4 times a year. Gram sabhas are held 6 times in a year in Maharastra.
The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has advised the State Governments and Union Territories that in regard to sensitive, controversial and contentious issues such as those relating to forest produce, land acquisition, mining & natural resources likely to affect the traditions and way of life of the community, and on which the consensual agreement of the Gram Sabha in PESA area is necessary and transparency of decision making is imperative, to make a full video-and-audio-graphic record of all gram sabha meetings and proceedings therein and the members present. The Ministry has also advised the State Governments to retain a copy of such record in both the Panchayat office and in the District Panchayat Secretary's office and to issue directions to the District Collectors/ ZP/ CEOs to take necessary administrative action to enable the gram panchayat to make and keep such records.2
- Ipsita Sapra (February 2013). "Living in the villages". dandc.eu.
- website of Ministry of Panchayati Raj Government of India
- Subramaniam Vincent (2002-02-28). "Ugly duckling to swan". India Together.
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