5TH STATE CONVENTION OF WOMEN PANCHAYAT PRESIDENTS
27th February, 2016
Women Panchayat presidents of Tamil Nadu vow to contest in 2016 Panchayat Election in General Constituencies also.
Demand withdrawal of powers of the Inspector of Panchayats from the Tamil NaduPanchayat Act 1994
The Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Presidents of Panchayat Government successfully convened the Fifth State Convention jointly with Tamil Nadu Dalit Panchayat Presidents Federation at Chennai on 27 February 2016. Women Presidents from 15 districts participated. Many of the delegates are from the oppressed sections especially dalits and a few from the adivasi community.
The women presidents welcomed the Tamil Nadu Government’s decision to pass a bill for 50% reservation to women in the upcoming Local Body Election. They are proud to announce at this Convention that our achievements for the welfare of all Gram Sabha members, especially the under privileged and landless labourers, the protection of common lands, natural resources and properties vested with the panchayats, the improvement of education, health care and nutrition etc., outweighs the obstacles and set backs we have faced.
While addressing the Inaugural Address Ms. Qudsia Gandhi, I.A.S., Former Chairperson & MD, Power Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (POWERFIN) insisted that as a first step education, people welfare, highways should come under the control of panchayats. She also said that women are capable of executing as many responsibilities as possible in a very efficient manner. Saying that knowledge is power she emphasis women panchayat presidents to be fully aware of panchayat administration.
Dr. V. Vasanthi Devi, Former Chairperson, Manonmaniyam Sundaranar University & Tamil Nadu Women’s Commission said if democracy exist in India it should begin from panchayat raj institution. If Tamil nadu is developed state, development should be visible in all our villages. A non-corruptive, transparent governance is relatively possible only in panchayats. Recent flood in Chennai and Cuddalore showed us that If panchayats were given full power to protect water bodies, natural resources the situation would have been much better. Finally she said that women president should unite and fight for the better society.
Ms. Valentina, State Committee Member, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) delivered that panchayats are the base for any welfare measures should be implemented. To build a non -discriminative equal society women have a major role no struggle will succeed with the active support of women. As women panchayat presidents they have to play a key role to way forward in building a democratic society.
Women panchayat president shared their challenges in panchayat administration including district administration giving no objection for companies without consulting panchayats, non-cooperation of revenue officials in retrieving common lands, discrimination by dominant caste council members political interferences.
After the sharing of panchayat presidents The Election Manifesto of the Federation for the Tamil Nadu Assembly Election was presented. They called upon the political parties to support and articulate the significant aspects of the manifesto in their election campaign. While responding to the panchayat presidents, Mr.Indirajithi, Executive Committee Member, Communist Party of India (CPI), Mr.R. Velmurugan, State Committee Member, Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI (M), Mr.Mallai Sathya, Deputy General Secretary, MDMK, Advocate Ezhil Caroline, State Secretary, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Mr.Aslam Basha, MLA, Ambur, Manitha Neya Makkal Katchi ensured that they will support these demands and take forward in their election campaign.
The leaders of the Federation urged the Government to immediately take steps to implement reforms to enable Panchayat government to function as real local self government.
IMPORTANT RESOLUTIONS PASSED IN THE CONVENTION:
The Participants resolved that irrespective of their husbands and family members, after 2016 election we women will administer the panchayats, we prefer to be independent candidates. Women presidents finalized their manifesto for the Panchayat Election 2016.
29 Powers to Panchayat: With regard to devolution of powers, and finance and administrative reforms on of 29 subjects, which the XI Schedule and Article 243 (G) of the Constitution of India guarantees for Panchayat Government, the states like Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, etc., have taken efforts to devolve powers to panchayat government. This has not been done by the previous and present Governments of Tamil Nadu. We urge that these powers be devolved immediately.
Panchayat Fund: They urged the state government to take necessary action on the recommendations of State Finance Commissions regarding devolution of funds to Panchayat. In 1996 the state government allocation for Panchayats was 8%, now in 2014 -2015 it was increased to just 10%. We request the government to devolve 50% of funds immediately.
Gram Sabha: For effective Grama Sabha, the agenda of Gram Sabha should be finalized by the Village Panchayat on the basis of their needs. Panchayats should be devolved with necessary funds and powers to implement Gram Sabha resolutions. It should be made compulsory for Village Administrative Officer; Union & District wards members and other Local Government officials to participate in Gram Sabha. The amount allotted to meet the expense to conduct Gram Sabha should be increased to Rs.2000. BDO; District Collector should give acknowledgement for the Gram Sabha resolution submitted to them.
Repeal the enormous powers vested with the Inspector of Panchayats including Section 205 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act 1994 : Local-Government is a government. Central and State Government bureaucracy must be accountable to this form of Government., Permitting the Collector to remove the President of Panchayats is an aberration of the tenets of Self Reliant Local-Governance. Sec.205 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act 1994 dealing with the removal of Panchayat President by the District Collector should be repealed.
We strongly feel that the powers vested with the District Collector are arbitrary and unconstitutional and must be repealed. In many states the Panchayat Act do not vest District Collectors with these powers. The alternative is to strengthen the District Panchayat institution and revolve democratic process at the District Panchayat level to monitor the functioning of Village Panchayats and Panchayats at the Union level.
The Ombudsman Act 2015 to enquire on the allegations against the elected Panchayat representatives and officials is insufficient: Tamil Nadu Government has brought an Act regarding establishment of Ombudsman for conducting enquiry on the allegations against the elected members of the local bodies and the officers and employees working under the local bodies. According to this Act there shall be an authority for the local bodies at state level to be known as Ombudsman. This is insufficient. It should be as it is in Kerala.
Protection of Common Resources: With regard to protection of common resources, and water bodies the local village panchayat and the Gram Sabha must have specific powers to decide on its usage. Without hearing the decisions of Panchayat and the NOC from the Panchayat Presidents and Gram Sabha the Central and State Government should not allow (or) propose any projects. Restore Section 84 of 1958 Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, which vested water resources / springs / reservoirs / tanks with village panchayats administration.
The Convention recorded that despite 23 years after the Constitutional amendments devolving powers to state governments, successive Governments in Tamil Nadu have failed to strengthen panchayat government with 29 powers entrusted to them under the Constitutional mandate. With whatever powers they had under the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994 the presidents have taken measures to fulfill the needs of the poor especially housing for marginalized. Many of them have also involved in protecting common lands and environment.
They also debated that until today neither powers nor finance or State Government personnel have been decentralized and made accountable to the elected Local Government system. A corollary of not instituting a List-IV in the scheme of Governance in the Constitution also left the Local Government system with no powers to legislate or adjudicate in important legislative matters concerning self – reliance dispute resolutions etc. Hence all law including Government Orders is made by the State or Central Government on behalf of Local Government. Local Government both in rural and urban areas continue to function under the controlling powers of the bureaucracy.