9th August, 2022 Polity and Governance
Copyright infringement not intended
- Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has released a six-point “guarantee” for tribals in Gujarat and announced that if they came into power then they will “strictly implement” The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA Act) in the state.
- In 1996, After the PESA Act was enacted; the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj circulated the model PESA Rules.
- However, only 6 states have notified these Rules, including Gujarat.
- The state government of Gujarat notified the State PESA Rules in 2017.
- However, many social activists have criticized the state government by highlighting that the Act has not been enforced in letter and spirit.
PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996
- In many states, the Panchayati raj provisions of the 73rd amendment were not made extended to the areas inhabited by the Adivasi populations (5th Scheduled of the Indian constitution).
- PESA Act, 1996 was passed to extend the provisions of Part IX of the Indian Constitution relating to the Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas.
- Under the Act, Scheduled Areas are those areas mentioned in Article 244(1), the provisions of the 5th Schedule apply to the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in states other than Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
- 10 states have been notified under the 5th Schedule areas that cover (partially or fully) several districts in each of these states: Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Telangana.
- The Act was enacted to ensure self-governance through village assemblies (Gram Sabhas) for the people living in the Scheduled Areas.
- It recognises the rights of resident tribal communities of the Scheduled Areas, to govern themselves through their systems of self-government, and also recognises their traditional rights over natural resources.
- The idea behind this act is that local traditions of self-government should be protected while introducing modern elected bodies.
- The Act empowers Gram Sabhas to play a key role in approving development plans and controlling all social sectors. This includes:
- Exercising control over minor (non-timber) forest resources, minor water bodies and minor minerals.
- Managing local markets, preventing land alienation.
- Right to mandatory consultation with gram sabha in land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced persons.
- Mandatory recommendations by Gram Sabha or Panchayat at an appropriate level for prospective licenses/leases for mines and concessions for the exploitation of minor minerals.
- Regulate sale/consumption of intoxicants and ownership of minor forest produce.
- Prevent land alienation and restore alienated land.
- Control over institutions and functionaries in the social sector, and local plans including Tribal sub-plans and resources.