The idea of local self-government is a very old concept in India. It was at its peak under
the later Cholas or the Imperial Cholas of Tanjore. Local Self-Governments are
institutions that look after the administration of an area or a small community such as
a village, a town or a city. Local Self- Government operates at the lowest level of society.
It works at the grassroot level, close to the people, touching their everyday life. Local
Self-Government is the management of local affairs by such local bodies which have
been elected by the local people. These local bodies provide services to the local
community as well as act as an instrument of democratic self-government.
Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957):
Three-tier Panchayati Raj system – gram panchayat at village level (direct election),
Panchayat Samiti at the block level and Zila Parishad at the district level (indirect
The village panchayat should be constituted with directly elected representatives,
whereas the Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad should be constituted with indirectly
elected members. All planning and development activities should be entrusted to these
The panchayat samiti should be the executive body while the Zila Parishad should be
the advisory, coordinating and supervisory body. The district collector should be the
chairman of the Zila Parishad. There should be a genuine transfer of power and
responsibility to these democratic bodies.
Ashok Mehta Commitee (1977-1978):
Two-tier system and political parties should participate at all levels in the elections.
The three-tier system of panchayati raj should be replaced by the two-tier system, that
is, Zila Parishad at the district level, and below it, the mandal panchayat consisting of a
group of villages with a total population of 15,000 to 20,000.

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A district should be the first point for decentralisation under popular supervision below
the state level. Zila Parishad should be the executive body and made responsible for
planning at the district level. There should be an official participation of political
parties at all levels of panchayat elections.
The panchayati raj institutions should have compulsory powers of taxation to mobilise
their own financial resourses. There should be a regular social audit by a district level
agency and by a committee of legislators to check whether the funds allotted for the
vulnerable social and economic groups are actually spent on them.
G.V.K.Rao Committee (1985):
Appointed by the Planning Commission, the committee concluded that the
developmental procedures were gradually being taken away from the local selfgovernment institutions, resulting in a system comparable to ‘grass without roots’.
The district level body, that is, the Zila Parishad should be of pivotal importance in the
scheme of democratic decentralisation. It stated that “the district is the proper unit for
planning and development and the Zila Parishad should become the principal body for
management of all development programmes which can be handled at that level.
“The Panchayati Raj institutions at the district and lower levels should be assigned an
important role with respect to planning, implementation and monitoring of rural
development programmes. Some of the planning functions at the state level should be
transferred to the district level planning units for effective decentralized district
A post of District Development Commissioner should be created. He should act as the
chief executive officer of the Zila Parishad and should be in charge of all the
development departments at the district level. Elections to the Panchayati Raj
institutions should be held regularly. It found that elections became overdue for one or
more tiers in 11 states.
Thus, the committee, in its scheme of decentralised system of field administration,
assigned a leading role to the Panchayati Raj in local planning and development. It is in
this respect that the recommendation of the G.V.K. Rao Committee Report (1986)

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differed from those of the Dantwala Committee Report on Block-Level Planning (1978)
and the Hanumantha Rao Committee Report on District Planning (1984).
Both the committees have suggested that the basic decentralised planning function
should be done at the district level.
L.M. Singhvi Commitee (1986)
73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, 1992. The Panchayati Raj institutions
should be constitutionally recognised, protected and preserved. For this purpose, a new
chapter should be added in the Constitution of India.
This will make their identity and integrity reasonably and substantially inviolate. It also
suggested constitutional provisions to ensure regular, free and fair elections to the
Panchayati Raj bodies.
Nyaya Panchayats should be established for a cluster of villages. The villages should be
reorganised to make Gram Panchayats more viable. It also emphasised the importance
of the Gram Sabha and called it as the embodiment of direct democracy.
The Village Panchayats should have more financial resources. The judicial tribunals
should be established in each state to adjudicate controversies about election to the
Panchayati Raj institutions, their dissolution and other matters related to their
Village Panchayat
Local governments which are function in villages are called Village Panchayats. The
President and ward members are directly elected by the people. (Those who have
attained the age above 18) and their term of office is five years. District Collector act as
the Inspector of Village Panchayat. Village Panchayats are constituted in each and
every village wherever the population is above 500.
Functions of the Village Panchayat
▪ Supply of drinking water
▪ Maintenance of street lights
▪ Maintenance of roads
▪ Maintenance of village libraries

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▪ Maintenance of small bridges
▪ Granting permission to the housing plots
▪ Maintenance of drainage
▪ Construction of group houses
▪ Cleaning of streets
▪ Maintenance of burial grounds
Meeting of Gram Sabha
In each and every village, the people living within its jurisdiction will be the members
of Panchayat. The President of the Panchayat will preside over its meetings. In the
meeting of the Gram Sabha, the income and expenditure and the beneficiary of the
schemes in the village are discussed.
Gram Sabha
Meetings of the Gram Sabha are conducted four times a year
1. January 26 – Republic Day
2. May 1 – Labourer Day
3. August 15 – Independent Day
4. October 2 – Gandhi Jayanthi
Panchayat Union
Panchayat Union is formed by grouping of villages. Members of the Panchayat Union
are directly elected by the people. The Chairman of the Panchayat Union is chosen
from among the members.
Functions of the Panchayat Union
▪ Supply of drinking water
▪ Maintenance of Village Health Centres
▪ Maintenance of roads
▪ Establishment of Maternity Homes
▪ Establishment of Public fairs
▪ Establishment of Veterinary hospitals
▪ Maintenance of Social forests
▪ Repairing of Primary School buildings

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The district collector, Planning officer, concerned Block Development Officer are
empowered to supervise the developmental functions of the Panchayat Union.
District Panchayat
A District Panchayat is constituted in each district. One district Panchayat is
constituted for every 50,000 people and the ward members are directly elected by the
people. The Chairman is elected from one among its members and their term is 5 years.
Functions of District Panchayat
Advising the government about the developmental schemes of the Village Panchayat
and Panchayat Union. Supervising the functions of District Planning Commission.
Town Panchayat:
The area where more than 10,000 people live is called a Town Panchayat. Members
and President of the town Panchayat are directly elected by the people. Th ere is an
Executive Officer to look after the administration of the Town Panchayat and their
term of office is 5 years.
Compulsory Provisions
• Organisation of Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages.
• Establishment of panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels.
• Direct elections to all seats in panchayats at the village, intermediate and district
levels. Indirect elections to the post of chairperson of panchayats at the
intermediate and district levels.
• 21 years to be the minimum age for contesting elections to panchayats.
• Reservation of seats (both members and chairpersons) for SCs and STs in
panchayats at all the three levels.
• Reservation of one-third seats (both members and chairpersons) for women in
panchayats at all the three levels.
• Fixing tenure of five years for panchayats at all levels and holding fresh elections
within six months in the event of supersession of any panchayat.
• Establishment of a State Election Commission for conducting elections to the

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• Constitution of a State Finance Commission after every five years to review the
financial position of the panchayats.
B. Voluntary Provisions
Giving representation to members of the Parliament (both the Houses) and the state
legislature (both the Houses) in the panchayats at different levels falling within their
Providing reservation of seats (both members and chairpersons) for backward classes
in panchayats at any level.
Granting powers and authority to the panchayats to enable them to function as
institutions of self-government (in brief, making them autonomous bodies).
Devolution of powers and responsibilities upon panchayats to prepare plans for
economic development and social justice; and to perform some or all of the 29
functions listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.
Granting financial powers to the pachayats, that is, authorizing them to levy, collect
and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls and fees.
The provisions of Part IX of the constitution relating to the Panchayats are not
applicable to the Fifth Schedule areas. However, the Parliament may extend these
provisions to such areas, subject to such exceptions and modifications as it may specify.
Under this provision, the Parliament has enacted the “Provisions of the Panchayats
(Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act”, 1996, popularly known as the PESA Act or the
Extension Act.
At present (2016), ten states have Fifth Schedule Areas. These are: Andhra Pradesh,
Telangana, Chhatisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh,
Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan. All the ten states have enacted requisite
compliance legislations by amending the respective Panchayati Raj Acts.
This Act has added a new Part IX-A to the Constitution of India. This part is entitled as
‘The Municipalities’ and consists of provisions from Articles 243-P to 243-ZG. In
addition, the act has also added a new Twelfth Schedule to the Constitution.

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This schedule contains eighteen functional items of municipalities. It deals with Article
243-W. The act gave constitutional status to the municipalities. It has brought them
under the purview of justiciable part of the Constitution.
In other words, state governments are under constitutional obligation to adopt the new
system of municipalities in accordance with the provisions of the act. The act aims at
revitalising and strengthening the urban governments so that they function effectively
as units of local government.
The area where more than 1,00,000 people live is called a Municipality. The Members
and the Chairman of the Municipalities are directly elected by the people and their
term of office is five years. A Municipal Commissioner is appointed by the government
to administer the Municipality.
• Municipal corporations are created for the administration of big cities like Delhi,
Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and others. They are established in the
states by the acts of the concerned state legislatures, and in the union territories
by the acts of the Parliament of India. Municipal corporations are established in
big cities where the city has many lakhs of population.
• The Municipal Commissioner is the Administrative Officer.
• The Mayor is the Chairman of the corporation.
• The term of office of the Mayor and other members is five years. In Tamil Nadu,
there are 12 Corporations. The Municipal Commissioner will be a person from
the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
• All the decisions of the Corporation Council will be implemented by him. He will
be assisted by the office of the corporation.
Important functions of the Mayor
• He acts as a bridge between the members of the corporation and the
• He presides over the meetings of the Corporation Council.
• He receives the dignitaries from foreign countries

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Types of other Urban Panchayats
• Notified Area Committee
A notified area committee is created for the administration of two types of areas—a fast
developing town due to industrialization, and a town which does not yet fulfil all the
conditions necessary for the constitution of a municipality, but which otherwise is
considered important by the state government.
• Town Area Committee
A town area committee is set up for the administration of a small town. It is asemimunicipal authority and is entrusted with a limited number of civic functions like
drainage, roads, street lighting, and conservancy. It is created by a separate act of a
state legislature. Its composition, functions and other matters are governed by the act.
It may be wholly elected or wholly nominated by the state government or partly elected
and partly nominated
• Cantonment Board
A cantonment board is established for municipal administration for civilian population
in the cantonment area. It is set up under the provisions of the Cantonments Act of
2006-a legislation enacted by the Central government. It works under the
administrative control of the defence ministry of the Central government.
Thus, unlike the above four types of urban local bodies, which are created and
administered by the state government, a cantonment board is created as well as
administered by the Central government.
Category Civil
I above 50,000
II 10,000 to 50,000
III 2,500 to 10,000
IV Below 2,500

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A cantonment board consists of partly elected and partly nominated members. The
elected members hold office for a term of five years while the nominated members (i.e.,
ex-officio members) continue so long as they hold the office in that station.
The Category I cantonment board consists of the following members:
(i) A military officer commanding the station
(ii) An executive engineer in the cantonment
(iii) A health officer in the cantonment
(iv) A first-class magistrate nominated by the district magistrate
(v) Three military officers nominated by the officer commanding the station
(vi) Eight members elected by the people of the cantonment area
(vii) Chief Executive Officer of the cantonment board
• Township
This type of urban government is established by the large public enterprises to provide
civic amenities to its staff and workers who live in the housing colonies built near the
plant. The enterprise appoints a town administrator to look after the administration of
the township. He is assisted by some engineers and other technical and non-technical
staff. Thus, the township form of urban government has no elected members. In fact, it
is an extension of the bureaucratic structure of the enterprises
• Port Trust
The port trusts are established in the port areas like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and so
on for two purposes:
(a) to manage and protect the ports; and
(b) to provide civic amenities. A port trust is created by an Act of Parliament.
It consists of both elected and nominated members. Its chairman is an official. Its civic
functions are more or less similar to those of a municipality.
• Special Purpose Agency
In addition to these seven area-based urban bodies (or multipurpose agencies), the
states have set up certain agencies to undertake designated activities or specific
functions that ‘legitimately’ belong to the domain of municipal corporations or
municipalities or other local urban governments.

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In other words, these are function-based and not area-based. They are known as ‘single
purpose’, ‘uni-purpose’ or ‘special purpose’ agencies or ‘functional local bodies’.
Some such bodies are:
1. Town improvement trusts.
2. Urban development authorities.
3. Water supply and sewerage boards.
4. Housing boards.
5. Pollution control boards.
6. Electricity supply boards.
7. City transport boards.
Central Council of Local Government
The Central Council of Local Government was set up in 1954. It was constituted under
Article 263 of the Constitution of India by an order of the President of India. Originally,
it was known as the Central Council of Local Self-Government.
However, the term ‘self-government’ was found to be superfluous and hence was
replaced by the term ‘government’ in the 1980s.Till 1958, it dealt with both urban as
well as rural local governments, but after 1958 it has been dealing with matters of
urban local government only.
The Council is an advisory body. It consists of the Minister for Urban Development in
the Government of India and the ministers for local self-government in states. The
Union minister acts as the Chairman of the Council.
The Council performs the following functions with regard to local government:
• Considering and recommending the policy matters.
• Making proposals for legislation.
• Examining the possibility of cooperation between the Centre and the states.
• Drawing up a common programme of action.
• Recommending Central financial assistance.
• Reviewing the work done by the local bodies with the Central financial

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1. Explain the powers of village Panchayat and Gram Sabha meeting.
2. Describe the 74th Amendment Act of 1992.
3. What are the types of Urban Panchayats?

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