Gram panchayats are local self-governments at the village or small town level in India. As of 2002 there were about 265,000 gram panchayats in India. The gram panchayat is the foundation of the Panchayat System. A gram panchayat can be set up in villages with minimum population of 300. Sometimes two or more villages are clubbed together to form group-gram panchayat when the population of the individual villages is less than 300.
Sarpanch / Chairperson
The Sarpanch or Chairperson is the head of the Gram Panchayat. The elected members of the Gram Panchayat elect from among themselves a Sarpanch and a Deputy Sarpanch for a term of five years. In some places the panchayat president is directly elected by village people. The Sarpanch presides over the meetings of the Gram Panchayat and supervises its working. He implements the development schemes of the village. The Deputy Sarpanch, who has the power to make his own decisions, assists the Sarpanch in his work.
The Sarpanch has the responsibilities of
- Looking after street lights, construction and repair work of the roads in the villages and also the village markets, fairs, 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 for education.
Sources of Income
The main source of income of the Gram Panchayat is the property tax levied on the buildings and the 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 Zilla Parishad.
Principles of decentralisation
Dr S B Sen committee, a committee appointed by the Government of Kerala in 1996, had suggested the following principles, which was later adopted by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, for local governance :-
- democratic decentralisation
- delineation of functions
- devolution of functions in real terms
- citizen centricity
gram sabha is conducted two times in a year ...December and June
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