Traditionally, Panchayat has been an integral part of rural Indian society. They played an important role in maintaining social order in villages. The 73rd Amendment of Constitution of India provided the Constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. Just like most of the states in India, Assam state of India has a three tier system of Panchayati Raj. The three tiers are – Zilla Parishad at district level, Anchalik Panchayat at block level and Gaon Panchayat at village level. Find below the history, structure, functions of different Panchayati Raj institutions in Assam.
History of Panchayati Raj System in Assam:
- Rural Panchayat Act 1948 established two tier system with Primary Panchayats and Rural Panchayat.
- Assam Panchayati Raj Act 1959 established a three-tier system with Gaon Panchayat, Anchalik Panchayat and Mohokuma Parishad.
- Assam Panchayati Raj Act 1972 introduced two-tier system with Gaon Panchayat and Mohokuma Parishad.
- Assam Panchayati Raj Act 1986 re-introduced three-tier system with Gaon Panchayat, Anchalik Panchayat & Mohokuma Parishad.
- Assam Panchayat Act 1994 established the current three-tier system with Zilla Parishad, Anchalik Panchayat and Gaon Panchayat.
Panchayati Raj Institutions in Assam:
There are three types of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Assam. They are – Zilla Parishad at district level, Anchalik Panchayat at block level and Gaon Panchayat at village level.
The area of a Gaon Panchayat is declared by the State Government. It can be any area comprising a revenue village or a group of revenue village or a Forest villager or Tea Garden area or hamlets forming part of revenue village or Forest village or Tea Garden area or other such administrative unit or part thereof. But the population of the area must be within 6000 to 10000. The term of a Gaon Panchayat is 5 years from the date of it’s first meeting. A Gaon Panchayat must meet at least once in 2 months at the office of the Gaon Panchayat. The Quorum for a meeting of the Gaon Panchayat is one third (1/3) of the total member of members.
Structure of Gaon Panchayat:
- President: One person, directly elected by people.
- Vice President: One person, elected from among the members of Gaon Panchayat.
- Ward members: Ten persons directly elected by people.
- Members of Anchalik Parishad are also the member of Gaon Panchayat (directly elected by people.)
Structure of Anchalik Panchayat:
- President: One person elected by the elected members of the Anchalik Panchayats.
- Vice President: One person elected by the elected members of the Anchalik Panchayats.
- Members: a) One member directly elected by the people from each Gaon Panchayat area. b) President of the Gaon Panchayats falling within the jurisdiction of the Anchalik Panchayat c) Member of the Lok Sabha representing constituencies within the Anchalik Panchayat area d) Members of Legislative Assembly of constituencies within the Anchalik Panchayat area.
Structure of Zilla Parishad:
- President: One person eelected from among the directly elected members of Zilla Parishad.
- Vice President: One person elected from among the directly elected members of Zilla Parishad.
- Members: a) Members directly elected from the Zilla Parishad constituencies of the district. b) Presidents of the Anchalik Panchayats. c) Members of Lok Sabha. d) Member of Legislative Assembly.
Committees of Panchayati Raj Institutions:
Each panchayati raj institution forms different types of standing committees to perform various functions.
Gaon Panchayat committees:
- Development Committee: performs functions related to agricultural production, animal husbandry and rural industries and poverty alleviation.
- Social Justice Committee: functions include Welfare of women and children; promotion and protection of interests of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Backward classes.
- Social Welfare Committee: performs functions related to education, public health, public works etc.
Anchalik Panchayat Committees:
- General standing committee.
- Finance, Audit and Planning committee.
- Social justice committee.
Zilla Parishad Committees:
- General standing committee
- Finance and Audit committee
- Social justice committee
- Planning and development committee
Subjects assigned to Panchayat in Assam:
In Assam, a total of 23 subjects related to 17 different departments are assigned to Panchayat. The subjects are:
- Agriculture including Agriculture Extension.
- Land Improvement & Soil Conservation.
- Minor Irrigation, Water Management & Watershed Development.
- Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Poultry.
- Small Scale Industries including Food Processing.
- Handloom, Sericulture, Khadi, Village & Cottage Industries.
- Drinking Water & Sanitation.
- Fuel & Fodder.
- Social Forestry & Farm Forestry.
- Minor Forest Products.
- Roads, Culverts, Bridges, Ferries, Waterways & Others means of Communication.
- Rural Electrification including Distribution of Electricity.
- Poverty Alleviation Programme.
- Primary Education.
- Secondary Education.
- Adult & Non Formal Education.
- Sports & Youth Affairs.
- Family Welfare.
- Women & Child Development.
- Health Sanitation including Hospitals, Health Centers & Dispensaries.
- Social Welfare, including Welfare of the Handicapped and Mentally Retarded.
- Public Distribution System.
Power and Functions of Panchayat:
Functions of Gaon Panchayat:
- Preparation of Annual Plans.
- Preparation of Annual Budget of Gaon Panchayat.
- Mobilization of relief in Natural Calamities.
- Removal of Encroachments on public properties.
- Organizing voluntarily labours and contribution for community works.
- Maintenance of essential statistics of village
Functions of Anchalik Panchayat:
- Preparation and submission of Annual Plans to the Zilla Parishad.
- Consideration and consolidation of Annual Plans of all Gaon Panchayats under it’s area.
- Preparation of Annual Budget.
- Performing functions entrusted to it by the Government or by the Zilla Parishad.
- To assist the Government in relief operation during Natural Calamities
Functions of Zilla Parishad:
- Prepare plans for economic development and social justice of the district.
- Ensure the coordinated implementation of such plan.
- Functions related to matters assigned by Government.