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New Panchayat Raj Act in Telangana

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


11:10 AM

Existing Setup
In united Andhra Pradesh, elections to panchayats were held in July 2013 in
Telangana. The term of the sarpanches commenced on August 2, 2013, and will
come to an end on August 1, 2018.
According to the Panchayat Raj Act, elections can be conducted three months prior
to the end of the tenure.
Total Panchayats in Telangana currently - 8684

Former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1992 brought in the 73rd Constitutional
Amendment paving the way for devolution of 29 subjects of funds, functions and
functionaries to the panchayats. Unfortunately, all these have been reduced to mere
laws on paper. Several State governments have not transferred the subjects and, in
many instances, most of the sarpanches were not been able to discharge their
duties. There are only a handful of villages, which lived up to the spirit of the 73rd
amendment.

With little accountability, sarpanches were expected to be responsible for the


development of road network, drainage facility, drinking water supply, sanitation,
garbage removal in village among others. The sarpanches have shifted these
responsibilities to MLAs concerned and demanded them to perform instead.
Thereby, the local bodies and panchayat raj institutions which were supposed to play
a pivotal role in a decentralised democratic set up have become replicas of
irresponsibility.

The basic advantages that were to accrue to villages through panchayat raj set-ups
like equitable distribution of local resources, ensuring the locals participation in the
government works, attending to people’s needs, creating local employment
opportunities, implementing poverty eradication programs have been given a go by
The non-participatory role of sarpanches have led to the failure of an important
programme of government. But the biggest lacuna was the inability of the
sarpanches to take the initiative forward and desired results could not be achieved.

Recent Events
The State Government has decided to bring in a new legislation to strengthen
Panchayat Raj Institutions as well as conduct elections well before the expiry of the
tenure.

Tribal Hamlets into Villages


Steps would be taken to convert tribals hamlets, Gudems (including Chenchu
Gudems, Gond and Koya Hamlets) into gram panchayats besides according
panchayat status to hamlets that lie in the far from the of Panchayat villages.
The Issues that would be considered for forming new Gram Panchayats are
Distance to the existing Panchayat, Geographical Location, and Population.
A total of 5040 Hamlets and Gudems will be converted to 1756 Gram Panchayats.

Allocation of Funds
Allocations would be made for the gram panchayats in the annual budget (based
on the population size) in addition to the funds that would be mobilised through
different sources.
In addition to making budgetary allocations, the Government will take steps to
dovetail the funds allocated through the Rural Employment Guarantee Act,
Finance Commission grants and those available through the corporate social
responsibility contributions for the comprehensive development at the village
level.

Panchayat elections
The issue of strengthening village panchayats was discussed by the Telangana
State Cabinet. The Chief Minister was particular that the elections to gram
panchayats were held in time as mandated by the Constitution.

Incentives for Performing Panchayats


The Chief Minister was said to be particular that while the performing panchayats
were incentivised, the Government would have rights to punish the non-
performing ones and it was proposed to incorporate provisions to this effect in
the proposed legislation.
The Responsibilities should be clearly defined for the working of the Sarpanches.

New Bill in the Assembly


The Government is likely to introduce a Bill to this effect in the forthcoming
session of the Legislature scheduled to commence on October 27.