Laggard states needs to expedite notification of PESA – Centre

(GS Paper-II, Polity, Constitution and Governance)

Source: The Times of India

Why in news?

  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has circulated the draft model PESA rules to the 10 PESA states out of which six States- Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra ,Rajasthan Gujarat  and Telangana have notified their PESA rules.

  • Four states namely Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh  ,Jharkhand and Orissa having a significant part of India’s tribal population are asked  to expedite notifications and implementation of the rules of PESA act 1996 by the centre.

  • In a meeting, the tribal minister and minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj made it clear that there was no scope for further delay.

  • Outlining the spirit of PESA, the Tribal Minister quoted -“PESA seeks to protect the spirit of Jal Jangal, Jameen for tribal”.

  • PESA will complete 25 years in December 2021.

What is PESA?

Background:

  • 73rd Constitution Amendment 1992 was made to promote local self governance in rural India .However its provisions were not applicable to the fifth schedule areas.

  • On the recommendations of the Bhuria committee in 1995 ,PESA act 1996 came into existence.

Objective:

  • The provisions of the PESA Act seek to empower local self-government in the scheduled V area of the country to help safeguard and preserve the traditions and Customs of the tribal communities.

  • The act focuses on the village governance with participatory democracy and to make Gram Sabha a nucleus of all the activities.

  • Gram Sabha is conferred with the absolute power under  PESA. To ensure proper functioning of Panchayat and Gram Sabha state legislatures have been given advisory roles.

Power provided to the Gram Sabha:

  • It has the ownership of the minor forest produce.

  • It owns the power to manage village markets and exercise control over Institutions and functionaries in all social sectors.

  • It has the power to regulate and prohibit the sale and consumption of any intoxicant.

  • It has power against land alienation of scheduled areas.

  • The Other power includes, power to control local plans and resources for such plans.

  • The beneficiaries are identified by the gram sabha.

Significance:

  • It ensures the  independence of local governance through decentralization of power and by empowering indigenous communities.

  • It revolves around the Gandhian philosophy of Gram Swaraj mentioned under article 40 (organization of village panchayat).

  • The provisions of the act are  designed in a way which respects the traditional system of the tribal community while at the same time trying to erase the historical injustice done to them.

  • The act also tries to bring harmony between the tribal community needs and modernity being grounded on its own culture.

Concerns around PESA:

  • There has been partial implementation of the act by the state government which has adversely affected the self governance in tribal areas.

  • The social audit revealed that developmental schemes were being approved by Gram Sabha without actual discussion.

  • Several other legislations have been brought up by the central government example  Forest Right Act 2006,Land Acquisition Act 2013 which includes many provisions of PESA thereby creating confusion and undermining the purpose of the act.

  • Though through the PESA  Gram Sabha has been conferred much power but in practice gram sabha has to go through many permissions and denials.

  • The biggest challenge lies in the degradation of the spirit of PESA which has now been termed as toothless.

Way forward:

  • Proper action needs to be taken for time bound implementation of PESA  in the states.

  • The conflict between Gram Sabha and panchayat needs to be addressed.

  • The state government shall allocate the power to Gram Sabha in such a way which empowers Gram Sabha  than override it.

By Vivek Raj Yadav

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