DMPQ- Comment on the important recommendations of Balwant Rai Mehta committee for Panchayati Raj system.

In January 1957, the Government of India appointed a committee to examine the working of the Community Development Programme (1952) and the National Extension Service (1953) and to suggest measures for their better working. The chairman of this committee was Balwant Rai G Mehta. The committee submitted its report in November 1957 and recommended the establishment of the scheme of ‘democratic decentralisation’, which ultimately came to be known as Panchayati Raj. The specific recommendations made by it are:

  • Establishment of a three-tier panchayati raj system—gram panchayat at the village level, panchayat samiti at the block level and zila parishad at the district level. These tiers should be organically linked through a device of indirect elections.
  • The village panchayat should be constituted with directly elected representatives, whereas the panchayat samiti and zila parishad should be constituted with indirectly elected members.
  • All planning and development activities should be entrusted to these bodies.
  • The panchayat samiti should be the executive body while the zila parishad should be the advisory, coordinating and supervisory body.
  • The district collector should be the chairman of the zila parishad.
  • There should be a genuine transfer of power and responsibility to these democratice bodies.
  • Adequate resources should be transferred to these bodies to enable them to discharge their functions and fulfil their responsibilities.
  • A system should be evolved to effect further devolution of authority in future.

These recommendations of the committee were accepted by the National Development Council in January 1958. The council did not insist on a single rigid pattern and left it to the states to evolve their own patterns suitable to local conditions. But the basic principles and broad fundamentals should be identical throughout the country.

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