Assam Cabinet Makes Landmark Decisions to Reform Panchayati Raj System

Editor Editor
Saturday, September 09, 2023
Assam Cabinet Makes Landmark Decisions to Reform Panchayati Raj System
Empowering Local Governance: Assam's Pathbreaking Panchayati Raj Reforms
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In a significant move, the Assam Cabinet announced a series of transformative decisions on 8th September,2023, aimed at reforming the Panchayati Raj System in the state. These crucial amendments to the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, promise to redefine local governance and ensure better representation, efficiency, and accountability.

Indirect Election for Gaon Panchayat (GP) Presidents: Under the new provisions, the post of Gaon Panchayat President will now be indirectly elected from among the 10 GP members. This change is expected to enhance the democratic process within GPs.

Introduction of Political Symbols: In a unique departure from the norm, political symbols will be introduced in elections for Zilla Parishad and Anchalik Panchayat, while candidates contesting GP elections will not be allowed to use party symbols. This move aims to focus on candidates' individual merit and qualifications.

No-Confidence Motion Restrictions: To ensure stability and effective governance, the Cabinet has stipulated that no-confidence motions cannot be initiated against the President and Vice President of Gaon Panchayat, Anchalik Panchayat, and Zilla Parishad during the first 2.5 years of their term.

Rotational Reservation for SC/ST: The Cabinet decision includes the introduction of a rotational system for the reservation of seats for SC/ST in wards of GPs with more than a 10% SC/ST population, furthering the cause of social inclusivity.

Ward Sabha Formation: The formation of Ward Sabha, a grassroots-level body, is now a part of the Panchayati Raj system, enhancing local participation and decision-making.

District Categorization Based on Population Density: The categorization of districts based on population density will lead to the reorganization of GPs accordingly, allowing for better allocation of resources and administration.

State Level Recruitment Commission: To ensure transparency and efficiency in Grade III and Grade IV recruitments in Panchayats, a State Level Recruitment Commission will be established.

Electronic Voting Machines in Panchayat Elections: The introduction of EVMs in Panchayat elections signifies a leap towards modernizing the electoral process and ensuring fair and tamper-proof voting.

District Delimitation Commission: A District Delimitation Commission will be constituted to determine the size of ZP/AP/GP constituencies. This commission will consist of the District Collector as Chairman, the CEO of ZP as Member Secretary, and the Election Officer as a Member.

Disqualification Measures: Elected representatives of Panchayats will face disqualification if they violate the legal age of marriage. Additionally, strict measures against defection from political parties have been introduced.

Audit of ZP Accounts: The Auditor General of Assam will conduct audits of ZP accounts, ensuring financial transparency and accountability.

Departmental Allotment for ZP Members: ZP members will be allotted to specific departments for monitoring and supervision, akin to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) model, enhancing the efficiency of district-level activities.

Minimum Educational Qualifications: To raise the quality of representation, GP members must have a minimum qualification of Matriculation (Class X pass for SC/ST members), while AP/ZP members must have passed Higher Secondary (Matriculation for SC/ST/OBC members).

These far-reaching decisions by the Assam Cabinet signify a commitment to strengthening local governance and ensuring that Panchayati Raj institutions effectively serve the interests of the people. These reforms promise to bring about a new era of transparency, accountability, and empowerment in the state's grassroots governance.