Govt gives nod for incorporating ‘best areas’ of 73rd amendment
* PRA to be amended to include provisions
July 30, 2013
JAMMU, July 29: The Government has finally given nod for implementation of some major provisions of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India into the Panchayati Raj Act, which were mutually acceptable to both the Alliance partners—National Conference and Congress. The provisions of 73rd amendment, which were being incorporated in the Panchayati Raj Act have been identified by the high powered Ministerial Committee of the Government after taking into account the reports prepared by two separate Congress panels. Official sources told the Excelsior that the Government had directed the Rural Development Ministry to immediately prepare draft legislation for carrying out amendments in the State Panchayati Raj Act to incorporate major provisions of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India in it.
The amendment would clear decks for holding much awaited elections to the Block Development Councils (BDCs), which formed part of second-tier of the Panchayats, the first being the election of Sarpanchs and Panchs, which were held in April-June 2011. The BDC elections were cancelled even after announcement in October last year. Sources said the BDC elections have already been delayed. They were scheduled to be held within a couple of months after the completion of exercise of Panchayat polls but continued to be deferred on one pretext or the other. Finally, the Election Department on the Government directive had in October last year announced the elections to the BDCs for November 7, 2012 but they were cancelled midway as various political parties including the Congress had objected to holding of the polls without reservations to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.
Sources confirmed that the ‘best areas’ of 73rd amendment for incorporation in the Panchayati Raj Act, which the Government has almost agreed upon, included Constitutional guarantee to Panchayats on completion of their five years term followed by elections after every five years, financial and administrative powers including control over development and 14 departments, which have already been identified, setting up of separate Finance Commission and Election Commission for the Panchayats, reservation in second and third tier of Panchayats for SC/STs and women i.e. BDCs and District Development and Planning Boards, security to Panchayat members wherever necessary after undertaking an exercise through CID and emoluments to Sarpanchs and Panchs, which have already been announced for present Panchayat members and their extension to BDC and DDPB members with increase.
Sources said a final decision on the major provisions of 73rd amendment in the State Panchayati Raj Act would be taken in the Cabinet after which the Rural Development Ministry would be directed to prepare the draft legislation for amendment in the State Panchayati Raj Act.
The amendment could be carried out in Monsoon session of the Legislature, which was likely to be held in September. The BDC elections could be held in November if everything goes well. However, if the BDC elections missed November-December deadline, then there is a possibility that they too could meet the fate of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) polls, which were unlikely to be held during tenure of present dispensation. The Government has already identified 143 BDCs in the State on which elections would be held. While elections to the BDCs had been announced in October without reservations, the elections now would be held with reservations to SCs, STs, women and SCs within the women.
It may be mentioned here that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had outrightly rejected the Congress demand for implementation of 73rd amendment in the State. However, he had agreed to include some provisions of the 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India in the State Panchayati Raj Act itself. The Congress had set up two Committees—one headed by Ravinder Sharma, MLC and another by GA Mir, MLA (now Tourism Minister) for studying the provisions of 73rd amendment for incorporation in the State Act. These two reports later became part of a high level Government Committee set up by on the same subject.