Guidelines for activating Gram Sabha, Ward Sabha and other People’s Assemblies during the year of Gram Sabha

In a bid to make the year of Gram Sabha an eventful and meaningful period for future planning the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has issued specific guidelines. The objective is to make unabated inroads for the developmental schemes across the rural areas in the country. Under the guidelines the activation of Gram Sabha, Ward Sabha and other People’s Assemblies during the year of Gram Sabha is one of the foremost target for accomplishment.

Since, for the rural local governance to be effective, energizing Gram Sabhas is the real challenge. There is a need to evolve mechanisms for regular and meaningful meeting of the Gram Sabha, active participation of its members and monitoring its functioning. Good practices that provide for people’s assemblies below the Gram Sabha such as Ward Sabha, Mahila Sabha and Bal Sabha should be promoted. Formation and federation of Self Help Groups of women on the pattern of Kudumbshree of Kerala would in particular expedite roll out of the proposed National Rural Livelihood Mission.

As the area and population of a Ward Sabha is smaller and commonality of interest greater, people would discuss with close involvement matters that they wish taken up through the Ward Member to the Gram Panchayat and evolve a consensus. Evidentally, the ward Sabha etc. need to meet before the Gram Sabha meeting.

The States should make appropriate provisions in their State Panchayati Raj Acts to provide for this. The draft ‘Model Panchayat and Gram Swaraj Act’ circulated by this Ministry and available on the website of the Ministry. This also includes provision for Gram/Ward development Sabhas; assignment to them of powers vis-à-vis economic, social welfare and monitoring; power of recall of chairpersons of Village Panchayats; citizen report cards; suo moto disclosure of information, social audit etc. Provisions of PESA Act would be a good reference for other Areas as well in this regard. Accordingly, the scope of deliberations in the Gram Sabha meetings can be enhanced to make these more interesting and meaningful, such as: -

(a) Gram Sabha can be an effective forum for information sharing on programmes, schemes, good practices and matters of common interest for which assistance from the State and Centre is available through different policies and programmes.

(b) Gram Sabha can discuss issues such as (i) quality of life and Millennium Development Goals, (ii) social security, gender justice, female feticides, substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco and drugs), hygiene, nutrition, (iii) sustainable development, diversification of agriculture, better cropping practices, opportunities for improving incomes, drought/flood management, soil & water conservation, (iv) infrastructure development, etc.

(c) Gram Sabha should fully participate in planning, implementation and performance review of various schemes viz. BRGF, NREGA, NRHM, SSA, ICDS, IWMP, RKVY etc. In preparing plan and shelf of projects, realistic assessment of resources should be made. All State Departments should clearly articulate the role of Gram Sabha in their Policy/Programme/Scheme.

The role & responsibilities of Sarpanch, Panch and Secretary should be clearly defined. Sarpanch & Panch should represent the voice of people and not be rendered as mere functionaries of the administration. Secretary, while being accountable to the Gram Sabha through Gram Panchayat, should be duly protected from local pressures.

These guidelines are a follow up of the Recommendations of the 2nd ARC on Local Self Governance that the Gram Sabha occupies a central place in the entire scheme of local governance because it provides an opportunity to the individual villager to participate in the local decision making process. The village plan emerges from the Gram Sabha. Moreover, there is a direct relationship between proper functioning of the Gram Sabha and empowerment of the PRIs.

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(Release ID :57334)