Bengaluru: Despite the Karnataka State Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act being amended in 2016, the long-awaited realisation of the ‘Gram government’ remains unfulfilled due to the government’s delay in formulating appropriate rules.
The lack of rules not only hampers the establishment of the village government but also undermines the purpose of reservation for Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes, and Women in local bodies. While individuals from various communities have been appointed to village boards through reservations, the governance structure lacks an adequate power-sharing formula.
The 73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution aimed to empower local bodies, fulfilling the vision of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In 1993, the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act were enacted to align with these constitutional amendments. However, despite the legislation, local bodies were not granted sufficient responsibilities, finances, authority, and human resources.
To address these shortcomings, chief minister Siddaramaiah government, in 2013, formed a committee led by former speaker KR Rameshkumar. The committee’s recommendations led to the amendment of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act. Despite the inclusion of crucial provisions for empowering villages and allowing them to formulate policies and rules, the government has yet to establish the necessary frameworks for effective implementation.
The Gram Swaraj Act bestows supreme authority upon Gram Sabhas, allowing them to implement central and state schemes, oversee project implementations, and make decisions on required projects. However, the current trend sees government schemes being developed and executed without the consent of the villages, reflecting a top-down approach.
The 2016 amendment emphasises granting extensive powers to Gram Panchayats, ensuring that Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes benefit from reservation. It calls for the transfer of all departmental authorities and powers to local bodies.
With only a month and a half remaining until the start of Amrita Mahotsava, commemorating the Constitution’s inception, former MLA DR Patil has urged deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar and rural development minister Priyank Kharge to take appropriate action during the Belgaum session, where Gandhiji once presided and envisioned Gram Swaraj.