District Rural Development Agencies

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DRDA has traditionally been the principal organ at the district level to oversee the implementation of anti-poverty programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development. This agency was created originally to implement the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP). Subsequently the DRDAs were entrusted with number of programmes of both state and central governments. From April 1999[1]a separate DRDA Administration has been introduced to take care of the administrative costs. This aims at strengthening the DRDAs and make them more professional in managing the anti-poverty programmes and be an effective link between the ministry and the district level.

Rural development and poverty alleviation programmes are implemented on a decentralised basis, keeping in view the large geographical areas, the administrative requirements and the need to involve grassroots-level officials and the community in the implementation of the programmes. At the central level the Ministry of Rural Areas & Employment has been implementing these programmes. The Ministry is responsible for the release of central share of funds, policy formulation, overall guidance, monitoring and evaluation of the programmes. At the State level Prl Secretary, Rural Development and the Commissioner of Rural Development are overall incharge for implementation of the rural development programmes. At the District level, the programmes are implemented through the DRDAs (District Rural Development Agencies). The governing body of DRDA includes Members of Parliament (MPs), Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), District level officials of Development Departments, Bankers, NGO's and representatives of weaker sections of the society. The District Collector used to be (but not always at present) the Chairman of the Governing Board. The Governing body at the district level provides guidance and directions to DRDA. The body in DRDA responsible for actual implementation is headed by an Additional District Collector.

Many Schemes of the Central and State Governments are introduced from time to time. Several schemes are available providing support to different components of Rural Development. Schemes are also periodically modified to reflect the experience over the years. The task of DRDA has been to identify the needs of the rural population and reach the appropriate schemes where they are needed. In implementing the schemes, the role of the DRDA has been Technical, Managerial and Financial. Thus DRDA is not only a body to disburse the funds for the schemes but also provide appropriate Managerial and Technical support.

District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) are district level development execution and monitoring agencies created under the Indian Societies Registration Act. Substantial sums of rural development funds of government of India were transferred and routed through them under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes. From purely a financial resource from Rural Development point of view the DRDAs are extremely important institutions at the district level.[citation needed]

Context of decentralization[edit]

With the adoption of the Constitutional mandate for decentralization of powers that privileged those self-government institutions in planning for economic development and social justice, the proposal to re-think the status of DRDAs and also to merge them with the panchayats had emerged. Under the section on 'devoluton of functionaries' the 1st Round Table had adopted a resolution, number IV(i), for reconceiving the role of District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs). DRDAs were to be progressively merged with the District Panchayats and their technical expertise made available to all tiers of Panchayats.

At an all India level, the progress reported in this regard is far from satisfactory. There are some vexed issues, one among which is the 'reported' reluctance on the part of some of the institutions of Union Government for the proposal of merger of DRDAs with the district Panchayats. The complete merger seems to have happened only in Kerala and Karnataka. The latter has a much longer history of doing this. In both the States the DRDAs function as if they were the cells for poverty alleviation/ rural development schemes within the Zilla Panchayats.

West Bengal is reported to have taken similar steps; yet, it does not measure up to the yardstick of complete merger. Rajasthan and Lakshadweep State/ UT Profile make a similar assertion; this report is unable to confirm this.

Status of DRDAs in the States[edit]

In 10 States/ UTs the DRDAs continue to be separate with the only linkage established with the ZPs is making the President of ZP the Chairperson of the DRDA. These are Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha , Punjab, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Lakshadweep. In Gujarat the District Development Officer, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Panchayat, continues to chair the DRDA. In nine States/ UTs either the Collector continues as the Chair or some other arrangement has been made in this regard. These are Assam, Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, and Pondicherry. Andhra Pradesh has made the Zilla Panchayat President the Chair of the DRDA while designating the Collector as the Executive Chairperson. Similarly, in Maharashtra, while the President Zilla Panchayat is made the Chair of the DRDA, the Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Panchayat is designated as the Executive Chairman of the Management Committee.[2]

Table : Status of DRDAs in the States

Sl. No State or U.T Status of DRDA
1 Andhra Pradesh DRDAs are separate; Collector is the Executive Chairperson though ZP President is made the Chairperson; large number and scope of parallel bodies across layers
2 Arunachal Pradesh DRDAs are separate
3 Assam DRDA separate; Deputy Commissioner is Chair and Ex Director; many parallel bodies
4 Bihar DRDA separate; ZP Chairman is Chairman of DRDA; many other parallel bodies;
5 Chhattisgarh Reportedly DRDA merged; practically only the ZP Chairman is made the Chairman of DRDA;
6 Goa DRDAs are separate;
7 Gujarat DRDA separate; District Development Officer is the Chairman;
8 Haryana DRDAs separate; ZP Chairman is the Chairman of DRDA and Dy Commissioner/ Collector is the Executive Chairman of DRDA
9 Himachal Pradesh DRDAs separate; ZP chairman is the chairman of DRDA; there are many other parallel bodies
10 Jammu & Kashmir DRDAs separate; interestingly, the DRDA administration is being refurbished, which by itself could be a very positive step; Panchayat at district level is called the District Planning & Development Board – in a way combining the ZP and DPC
11 Jharkhand DRDAs separate; Dy Commissioner is Chairperson of DRDA
12 Karnataka DRDA merged with ZP since 1987; functions as a unit of ZP office with distinctiveness maintained only to facilitate transactions with the MoRD, New Delhi
13 Kerala DRDAs merged with ZP, function as poverty alleviation cell of the ZP; some parallel bodies (Freshwater Fish Development Agency, Brackishwater Fish Development Agency) still function as per the directions of GoI. The MLA-LDF is also outside the purview and is sort of a parallel body.
14 Madhya Pradesh DRDAs separate; ZP Chairman is the Chairman of DRDA Many parallel bodies, particularly those funded by multilateral and bilateral agencies and operated by the State Government as para-statal entities; DPIP and

MPRLP are two examples.

15 Maharashtra DRDA separate, ZP Chairman has a cosmetic position of being Chairman of Governing Body of DRDA with the CEO being the executive chairman of the Management Committee
16 Manipur DRDA separate; Dy Commissioner as the Head; Many parallel bodies primarily associated with the Development programmes/ schemes of the Union Government.
17 Odisha DRDA separate; PD – DRDA is designated as the Secretary-cum- Executive officer of ZP; ZP President is the Chair of DRDA
18 Punjab DRDAs separate; ZP Chairman is made the Chairman and it is said that all Panchayats have access to the expertise of DRDA; there are other parallel bodies at district and village levels (Village Water and Sanitation

Committees, Village Education Committees), with no linkage with Panchayats

19 Rajasthan DRDA reportedly merged in 2003; however there are para-statals set up through multilateral funding as well as schemes of State and Union government
20 Sikkim DRDA is separate
21 Tamil Nadu DRDA separate institution; Chaired by the District Collector; many parallel bodies like in village education committee, watershed Associations, village forests committees exists.
22 Tripura DRDA exists separately; President of ZP is the Chairman of DRDA
23 Uttar Pradesh DRDAs separate; Chaired by the District Magistrate(DM) and managed by Chief Development Officer(CDO) headed by ZP President; there are a few other parallel bodies
24 Uttarakhand DRDA separate; ZP President is its chair; Van Panchayats, Village Education Committees are the other parallel bodies
25 West Bengal DRDA merged; rechristened as DRDC of ZP;
26 Andaman & Nicobar DRDA is separate; Out of three, only one ZP President is the Chair of


27 Chandigarh No DRDA
28 Dadra & Nagar Haveli DRDA is separate
29 Daman & Diu DRDA continues to function as a separate body and have not been merged.
30 Lakshadweep DRDA is said to be merged; ZP President is the Chair; DRDA providing support to the ZP; other parallel bodies relate to Central schemes such at the SSA;
31 Pondicherry DRDA is separate; Attempts are made to link other parallel bodies with Panchayats;


  1. ^ http://rural.nic.in/sites/downloads/right-information-act/DRDA_RTI.pdf
  2. ^ See The state of panchayats : 2007-08 , An independent assessment, Volume I : Thematic reports P 55

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Coordinates: 28°35′30″N 77°13′21″E / 28.5916°N 77.2225°E / 28.5916; 77.2225