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.Goverment Departments
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Department of Panchayat

The Government decided to change the name of the Local Administration Department into the Department of Local Self-government. For administrative convenience, the Rural Development Department was merged with the department of Local Self-government and for the urban administrative matters special arrangement was made in the Secretariat. The difference between urban and rural areas is very little in Kerala. So the activities of the Department of Urban Planning were extended to rural areas and the name of the department was changed into  "Town and Country Planning". The activities of the development agencies were also made efficient. A lock-stock and barrel change was made in the Urban Development Financial Corporation and the Rural Development Board. With a view to solving the urban problems on a time bound footing, schemes were chalked out and importance was given to the eradication of solid waste and the development of infrastructure. There are 1214 local self government bodies. That the State administration could effectively be transformed from centralized to decentralised administration, and importance was given to people's participation in the administration and development sectors were silent revolution, which took place in Kerala. The Government transferred about 40% of the plan outlay to the local self-government bodies.

For eradicating all the overt traces of poverty from the State within 10 years, the self-help groups of women were organised under, the Kudumbashree project. This project aims at the all round development of the people of below poverty line. Kudumbashree has attracted national level attention. Similarly the bio-development project to restore the bio-variety and the dense forests wealth at Attappady area in Palakkad district has also drawn national level attention.

Power and Planning into People The administration and planning systems the world over are, in general, centralised. But this system is suitable for small countries, it is not fitting and proper for India, a subcontinent like country. When we think of an alternative plan to find solutions to the common problems of the people, the infinite possibilities of decentralisation of power and planning loom large before us. To make basic changes in the existing administrative system which is deep-rooted is not an easy thing. The Government realised that the existing local government bodies without being changed into local self-government bodies (having right to self-govern) an attempt to have a transfer of power will be quite futile and meaningless. It is on the basis of that Government decided to decentralise power and planning.

The Panchayat Raj-Municipality Act on the basis of 73 rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution came into force in the State on 23-4-1994 and 30-5-1994 respectively. As per the provisions made in the Act a number of powers and responsibilities and projects of the Government were transferred to the local self-governments with effect from October 2, 1995. Along with them, the service of the concerned officers was transferred to the local self-government bodies.

Performance Audit
It was part of the steps taken on decentralization of power from 1997-98 more funds than those of the previous years were sanctioned to the local self-government bodies. This sanctioning of more funds necessitated the strengthening of audit arrangement. In the light of this, in the local self-government bodies, new audit system (performance cum corrective audit) was implemented. It aims at the quarterly review of the administrative measures. By means of performance audit, irregularities are detected. And ig gives chances to avoid such irregularities and remedy the avoidable errors.

It was deploying employees from the Secretariat and Panchayat/ Municipal Departments the performance audit teams were organized. By organizing Performance Audit Teams the beginning of the implementation of the idea of deployment of the officials  could be made. The Government have decided to appoint an official not below the rank of a Deputy Account General as the State Performance Auditor. Comprehensive Amendment Act

As per the recommendations of the Power Decentralization Committee the State Government amended the Kerala Panchayat Act and the Kerala Municipality Act. The amendments made helped to exercise the transferred powers completely. The amendments are as follows:

Grama Sabhas/Ward Sabhas
It is provided in the Act the grama sabhas in the Panchayat should meet at least once in three months and the meeting of the quorum should be 10%. The powers and duties of the sabha have been increased. As in the grama sabhas of the panchayats, in municipalities where the population is less than 1 lakh, there is provision for forming ward sabhas in each ward. The grama sabhas/ward sabhas have power to discuss budget, Audit report, plan documents, estimate of public works.

Number of Members
With a view to activating the grama/ward sabhas and increasing the number of members in the standing committee and thereby decentralise the administrative responsibility, the number of members of grama/block panchayats was raised from 10% to 20%, and that of the district panchayats from 15 to 30% and the municipalities from 20 to 50% and corporation from 50 to 100%.

Disqualification of the Members Persons convicted for corruption are disqualified to contest election. The Panchayat/municipal members thus convicted would forfeit their membership. The defected members would also lose their membership. The persons who are responsible for the financial loss of the local self-government bodies and misutilisation of fund and who have not convened grama sabhas within the stipulated period shall lose their membership. MLAs and MPs shall not become members of the local self government bodies. The forefeiture of the membership shall ultimately be decided by the State Election Commission. The power to remove the members vested with the Government, is taken away.

Provision is also made that Panchayat president/municipal chairperson shall be a full time member. They are empowered to suspend any other person, subject to enquiry, under the local self-governments bodies.

No Confidence Motion
The procedure regarding no confidence motion is made transparent. As soon as no confidence motion is carried, the concerned president/vice president shall be deemed to have demitted the office.

Property Statement of the Members
It is provided that the elected members of the panchayats/ municipalities shall give statement regarding their property.

Standing Committees
In grama/block panchayats three each and in district/municipal councils 5 each and in corporation 7 each standing committees are constituted. Government Control

Restrictions are placed in Government's power to adjourn and to cancel Panchayat/municipal resolutions. The Government cannot cancel any resolution without ascertaining the opinion of the ombudsman or Appellate Tribunal for the local self-government.

Administrative Reports
It is stipulated that the annual administrative reports of the panchayats/municipalities should be published.

Control was placed on the power of the Government to dissolve panchayat/municipal councils. Only after ascertaining the opinion of the ombudsman can the panchayat/municipal councils be dissolved.

It is also provided in the act that grant should be given to the local self government bodies according to the specific yardsticks. In this matter an annual report should be submitted to the Governor and a copy be placed before the Assembly. The land revenue amount used to be given only to the panchayats is now shared with block/district panchayats also.

Right to information
It is provided that the people have the right to know the full information regarding the administration of the local self-government bodies and withholding of information is made punishable. The procedure to get information is also provided.

A permanent committee, headed by a Judge of the High Court (whether serving or retried), consisting of two District Judges, two top Government officials, two respectful public men was coming into existence. The Ombudsman has a lot of power and responsibilities. As part of financial austerity measures ombudsman is now made into a one -member forum. Appellate Tribunal

In one place or more an officer of the status of District Judge is going to be appointed as the appellate tribunal to hear the appeal/ revision petition filed by the public on the orders issued by the grama sabhas and municipal councils exercising regulatory powers. Public Documents

Provision has been made to publish a public document regarding information on the various types of services the local self government bodies are making available to the public and their conditions and the time limit within which they are made available. Subject Matter of Duties

In the subject matter of duties assigned to village/block/district panchayats in the 3rd, 4th and 5th schedules as per the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, comprehensive amendments are made. Similarly in the subject matter of the duties of municipalities also amendments have been effected. All these amendments are made keeping in view of the decentralisation of power. With the entrustment of several duties of the State to the local self government bodies the scope of development of rural and urban areas became infinite.

District Planning Committee
The District Planning Committee is clothed with powers to examine and propose changes in the draft for development projects prepared by the panchayats and municipalities. The Government is to consider the proposals and priorities in the draft prepared by the District Panchayat Committee when the State Plan is prepared. The District Planning Committee has power to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Plan.

State Development Council
A State Development Council with the Chief Minister as chairman, members of the cabinet and opposition leader as vice chairmen, District Planning Committee Chairmen, Panchayat/municipal representatives etc as members has been constituted.

The Revised Public Works Rules
About the public works of the local self government bodies allegation have been raised at all times. Revised rules favourable to understand and implement public works of the local self government bodies not leaving room for such allegations and corruption and unnecessary expenditure have been issued by now. In all matters transparency has been ensured. Each item of work is subject to the scrutiny of village assembly/ward assembly. These rules provide facilities to the rural beneficiaries to take up work at low cost, avoiding contractors.

Power Decentralisation Act
The amendments to the Panchayat Raj/Municipal Act passed by the Legislative Assembly in February 1999 were intended to strengthen the power decentralisation process and to expand the powers and responsibilities given to the three-tier system as per the 73rd and 74th amendments in the Constitution. It is to smoothen the decentralisation of power based on the amended Act that the Government tried to amend 35 more acts which have inseparable relation with the functioning of the local self governments. With these amendments, the power decentralisation process is attaining perfection to a great extent.

Addition to amending  35 Acts, 3 Acts have been cancelled. The Kerala State Rural Development Board Act, The Hackney Carriages Act and The Additional Entertainment Tax Act are the cancelled ones. Deployment

The conduct of administration is not possible only with the transfer of power. To conduct administration the requisite service of the employees must also be given. For this purpose the Government intend deploying a sizeable section of the employees and transferring them to the control of local self-government bodies. The recommendations of the committee for decentralisation of power is under the active consideration of the Government.

The Government do not target simple decentralisation of power. What we want is democratic and corruption free decentralisation of power and the power thus conferred should be utilized for the summum bonum of the people. Such local self-government bodies are the need of the hour. A style of administration in which the officials and the representatives of the people go shoulder to shoulder and work for the local development should emerge. No the part of the Government steps are being taken to reach this goal. People's Planning-Aims and Achievements

Five years have elapsed since the local self-government bodies as part of people's planning movement, formulated their schemes and implemented them with people's co-operation. Regarding the qualitative changes the movement brought about in the power decentralisation sector in general and development sector in particular, a consensus has come out. People's planning has more or less acquired by now the ability to cut and clear its own path and forge ahead. The people’s planning has become the urgent obligation of the local self-government bodies of the state.

People's Planning- Aims
To solve the crisis existing in the production sector (including agriculture and industry) and ensure development is the first aim. The second aim of this movement is to end the fall in the standard of the quality in service sectors including in the health education and improve the tribal/fish worker sectors, which have not yet reached the mainstream of development. To raise the socio-economic life standards of people of these sectors step by step and bring them to the mainstream of life is another important objective of people's planning movement. To ensure balanced development in the environmental sector of the State is the fourth aim of the people's planning. To deliver the womenfolks who constitute more than half of the society from the different kinds of exploitation they face today and take them to the mainstream of development is again another important aim of this movement.

The Reflections of Change
It cannot be claimed that with activities of the movement, all the aims and objectives were achieved. In the place of a sense of pessimism that nothing would improve, a sense of optimism developed among the people, the optimism that if worked on the basis of people's participation with will power and determination, a lot of things could be implemented. Objectives and transparent style of taking decisions based on distinct priorities and norms have come to stay in the majority of the local self-government bodies.

The large Participation in the Village Assembles
The most important achievement of the village assemblies is that they could prove that they have a very crucial role in the planning-decentralisation activities. As part of people's planning activities village assemblies were organized and public interest was generated in the planning -decentralisation activities. The village assemblies could prove to be the most suitable practical local unit for these activities.

Financial Aid to the Project
As part of people’s planning large-scale financial aid was transferred to the local self-government bodies in the State. It was only a very mearge amount that the local self-government bodies in the State used to get before the beginning of this movement. In 1997-98 a sum of Rs. 749 crores was provided in the budget and given as grant and of which an amount of Rs. 39 crores was earmarked for Tribal Sub Plan and an amount Rs. 194 crores was provided for Special Component Plan. In 1998-99 and 1999 -2000 years the plan allocation for the local self-government bodies rose to Rs. 950 and Rs. 1020 crores respectively. An amount of Rs. 1042 crores was earmarked for 2000-2001.

Plan Allotment during 2001 – 2002 (In lakhs)

Local   Self Govt  General  S C P T S P*      Total 
38484   9859   1986 50329     
anchayat Block       8246 3286  794  326    
8246  3286   1191  12723
Municipalities   11824  1769       29    13622
Total      66800    18200    4000  89000  
State’s Plan share  8165     Total   97165

·  From 2001-2002 onwards the Plan Fund for ST / SC welfare is decided to be administered through
SC/ ST Welfare Department.

Plan Allocation in General Category will be catered to Local Self-Governments based on certain criteria. The funds earmarked for Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub Plan will be issued basing on the population of the beneficiary groups. A grama panchayat will get a minimum of Rs. 25 lakhs whereas a block panchayat gets Rs. 30 lakhs. Plan visualizes priority for production sectors.

State Election Commission
By way of amendment made in the Panchayat Raj Act the State Election Commission is armed with ample powers.

Besides conducting election to the local self government bodies, the powers like division of wards, reservation of wards, disqualification of people's representatives, implementation of Prohibition of Defection Act etc. are vested with the Election Commission. Prior to this, these powers were vested in the Government. In no other state in the country  the Election Commission has been vested with this much of power.

Second Finance Commission The Government accepted the 64 recommendations submitted by the first Finance Commission chaired by Dr. P.M. Abraham and gave the force of law. The Government has constituted the Second Finance commission with Shri. Prabhath Patnaik as chairman. The commission has started functioning from June 1999.

State Rural Development Board
The main activity of the board is to give loan to those projects, which help to increase the revenue of the panchayats. The board provides loan to construct market stalls, shopping complexes, office buildings and busstands.

Swaraj Trophy
The Government have decided to congratulate the panchayats that do exemplary work in the conduct of administration and development. They will be given state level and district level swaraj trophy and cash prize. The panchayats are selected for award on the basis of general conduct of administration, collection of revenue, performance of village assemblies, planning, people's participation, transparent and efficient execution, physical achievement, distribution of social security pension etc.

New Panchayats
In order to make the administration of the panchayats efficient, largesized panchayats having more population were divided and 20 new grama panchayats were formed. These panchayats came into existence from October 2000. For the convenience of the people, 11 grama panchayats were delinked.

The State has 991 Grama Panchayats, 152 Block Panchayats, 14 District Panchayats, 52 Municipalities and 5 Corporations. Consequent to the 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India, the Local self-government Institutions (LSGIs) are to function as the third tier of Government. In Kerala, LSGIs have been meaningfully empowered through massive transfer of resources as well as administrative powers. Coupled with a grassroots level approach of Participatory Planning whereby the developmental programmes are identified and implemented through Grama Sabhas, the LSGIs have emerged as effective agencies for the implementation of developmental programmes.

Organisational Structure

                                                                             Director of Panchayat

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