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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. As of 2002[dated 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 17 members, elected from the wards of the village, and they are called a "panch". People of the village select a panch, with one-third 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.
Number of members for gram panchayat
- 600-1500 (population): 7 members
- 1501-3000: 9
- 3001-4500: 11
- 4501-6000: 13
- 6001-7500: 15
- 7501-9000: 17
Sources of income
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(Zila 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
Gram Sabha include all the adult citizens of the village. It is empowered to support or topple down the Gram Panchayat body. The Sabha can contribute to the number of decisions taken by the Panchayat and can modify weak decisions whenever they feel. The Panchayat can be established for a village having a population of 1000-25000. The villages having less population are grouped under 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.
According to Sec 6 (3) of APPR ACT, the meeting of a gram sabha should compulsorily be held twice a year. The government 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 four times a year. Gram sabhas are held four times in a year in Maharastra.
Functions: 1. Supply of water for domestic use. 2. Construction and repairs to public roads, drains, small irrigation bandharas. 3. Maintaining sanitation and public health. 4. Construction, repairing and maintaining public buildings, grazing lands, forest public wells and tanks in good condition. 5. Lighting on roads and public places. 6. Controlling fairs, bazaars (public market) bullets cart stands. 7. Controlling and marinating village cemetery. 8. Taking part in Agricultural development. 9. Maintaining a library and opening elementary school. 10. Providing and maintaining a playground for children. 11. Construction and maintaining public latrines. 12. Watch and ward work. 13. Planting and preservation of trees on the sides of the public roads in the village. 14. Collection of taxes. 15. Providing recreational facilities through establishment of T.V. unit.
- 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.