Federation of Women Panchayat Presidents

The Tamil Nadu – Federation of Women Presidents of Panchayat Government was formed in the first State – Level Convention of Women Panchayat Presidents on 18th October – 2000 at Chennai. 210 Women Panchayat Presidents from 20 Districts and more than 100 women leaders of voluntary organizations, political parties, trade unions, women and dalit organizations participated in this Convention. This was made possible by the efforts of District level Women Presidents Associations with the support of 29 Voluntary Organizations. A State Committee to facilitate and strengthen the Federation of Women Presidents was formed. As of 2008 15 state committee meetings have been held and four state level conventions were organized where approximately 300 women presidents participated in each of these conventions.

The purpose of these Conventions was fairly achieved namely to strengthen the Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Presidents of Panchayat Government; to bring to the notice of  Government, political parties and MLA’s the reforms and policy changes needed for the empowerment of Panchayat Government including devolution of 29 powers; to highlight the challenges and achievements of Women Panchayat Presidents and to evolve strategies and actions to stop destructive development in the panchayats caused by the petro – chemical industries, encroachments of land by real estate, infrastructure projects, SEZ’s, halting privatization of education and health care in the panchayat unions, stopping charging of tariff for Electricity etc.,

Some of the achievements of women presidents (dalit and non dalit) of the federation shared by the delegates:

  • Improvement of roads and other infrastructure in the villages
  • Providing safe drinking water, toilets etc.
  • Removal of encroachment from panchayat by propertied and caste hindus.
  • Implemented many government schemes to ensure that maximum dalits and other disadvantaged families benefit (housing, overhead tanks, roads, etc)
  • Implementing National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme effectively even though there are several problems that panchayat presidents face.
  • Not allowing common lands to be gifted to Special Economic Zones, polluting chemical industries, effluent and toxic waste sites, thermal plants.
  • Improved street lighting and household electricity
  • Enabled dalits to assert their rights to common resources vested in panchayats like fish breeding rights on village ponds, fuel trees grown in irrigation tanks etc.,

Main demands of the Federation are:

  • The Government of Tamil Nadu should urgently devolve the 29 powers, funds and functionaries as listed in the XI schedule of the Indian Constitution (Constitution 73rd Amendment) to the three tier panchayat.
  • The federation recommends that a separate List IV for Local Government be incorporated in the Constitution similar to List I,II and III.
  • As a first phase funds, functionaries, management and controlling powers over Health, School Education, PDS, ICDS, Social Welfare, water bodies registration of lands, protection of common lands and resources which is still under the State Government Departments must be entrusted to three tier Panchayats. The VAO must function as a staff of panchayat government.
  • Section 205, of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act dealing with removal of panchayat presidents by the District Collector should be repealed. Permitting the Collector to remove the President of panchayats is an aberration of the tenets of self – reliant local – governance. Parallely, Chapter X of Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act should be repealed as these provisions are being used by bureaucracy to control and victimize the elected representatives of Panchayat Government and veto the decisions to panchayat councils, village and urban level.
  • Amend Sec. 159, 160 by repealing Veto Powers of Collectors on the decisions of elected council regarding the control and management of land and common resources.
  • Restore Section 84 of the 1958 Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, which vested water resources / springs / reservoirs / tanks to village panchayats administration. Similarly all common minerals now controlled by PWD and Department of Geology and Mining must be restored to village panchayat government.
  • The State should resolve the impediments/practical difficulties in implementation of NREGA by the Panchayat Government
  • The state should acknowledge the failure to stop violence, discriminatory  practices, oppressive actions and, intimidations against dalits and women presidents and take stringent action to stop all these crimes and inhuman acts and ensure safety and protection to them
  • Like the representatives of Legislative Assembly and Parliament (MLAs, MPs), the Presidents of the Panchayat Government must be paid a honorarium of minimum Rs 5,000/- as they are also ex officio secretaries.

Finally, demanding due respect and decentralization of power, all the panchayat presidents took an oath to act independently while administrating their Panchayats.


Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Presidents of Panchayat Government

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District Level Convention cum Training for Women Panchayat Presidents
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