(Last Updated on : 09/02/2010)
As in urban areas, so in rural areas there are certain local problems which can be solved efficiently only by the local people. More than eighty per cent of the Indian people live in villages and the welfare of the people implies an all-round improvement of the Indian villages. With this end in view three types of self-governing institutions were created to look after the affairs of rural areas, namely, the District Board, the local or the Taluk Board and the Union Board or the Village Panchayat.
The West Bengal
Government decided to introduce far-reaching reforms of the units of rural self-government on the basis of the report of the Balavant Rao Mehta Committee. Accordingly, the West Bengal legislature passed a new Act in 1963 The Act provided for the creation of four categories of local self-governing institutions. The Zilla Parishad stands at the apex of these institutions followed by Anchalik Parishad, Anchal Panchayat and Gram Panchayat. The new system primarily aimed at implementing the high ideals set forth by the preamble to the Constitution as also the directive principles of state policy Decentralisation of power is the basic principle of democracy. Democratic socialism is impossible unless the social structure, the administrate machinery and the economic organisation of a country are based upon decentralisation of power. With this end in view, the rural self-governing institutions introduced in this country by the former British rulers were reconstituted and revitalised so that through the agencies of these newly-formed institutions, the rural people may be increasingly associated with the task of planning for development The foundation of the welfare state was strengthened by providing for participation of the local people in the administration of local affairs affecting their common interests.
Rural self-government in West Bengal is now regulated by the West Bengal Panchayat Act, 1973 which created a three tier system, namely, (1) Gram Panchayat, (2) Panchayat Samiti, and (3) Zilla Parishad. The work of these units is supervised by the Director of the Panchayat appointed by the State Government.
Gram Panchayats are local governments at the level of villages and small towns. In fact the Gram Panchayat is the foundation of the Panchayati system in India. A Gram Panchayat is formed in a village which has 300 or more than 300 population or else two or more villages are clubbed together. Sarpanch or the Chair Person heads a Gram Panchayat. The main functions of the Grampanchayat are to look after the basic amenities of the villages under the surveillance of the Sarpanch. The Gram Panchayat earns its income from the taxes levied on various open spaces and various other properties of the villages.
The Panchayat Samiti has taken the place of the former Anchalik Parishad and is the second tier under the new system. Every district is divided into a number of Blocs consisting of several neighbouring villages. For each Bloc, there shall be one Panchayat Samiti of which the Bloc Development Officer (BDO) will act as an ex-officio Executive Officer.
Zilla Parishad looks after the administration of rural areas in a district. The office of the Zilla Parishad is located in the district headquarters. The main function of this governing body revolves around providing the essential facilities to the rural people and to initiate the developing programmes in the villages.
Finally it can be concluded saying that rural local self government in the present day has been very meticulous to bring about developments in the villages.