For understanding of Panchayati Raj in India, two important committees deserve special mention. These are Balwant Rai Mehta Committee in 1957 and the Ashok Mehta Committee in 1978.Moreover the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment are the milestone in the process of establishing democratic decentralised administration through local bodies and taking administration to the common people to ensure economic and social justice. Every state in India follow these criterias of Panchayati Raj and urban local bodies system.
The local governance in Bihar is distributed according to geographical and administrative set up of Bihar. For the sake of administrative convenience the state is divided into divisions, districts, sub-divisions, blocks and panchayats. There are 9 divisions, 38 districts, 101 Sub-divisions and 534 blocks in the state of Bihar. Each block is divided into various Gram Panchayats.
Panchayati Raj System (Rural Self Government) (Bihar GK in English)
This system is adopted in the rural areas of the Indian states. Panchayati Raj system in India dates back to ancient time. It has unique features which give local self-governance at the grass root level. It was formalised in 1992 by the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution. This amendment act added 11th Schedule to the Constitution of India. The act provides for three-tier Panchayati Raj in each state, at village, intermediate and district levels. A state not having population more than 20 lakh may not constitute Panchayat at intermediate level. The Panchayati Raj Act provides for reservation of seats for SCs/STs in every Panchayat in proportion to their population to the total population. To become eligible to be elected in Panchayat, one must have age of 21 years and qualified to be member of Legislature.
Panchayati Raj System in Bihar
The Bihar Panchayati Raj Act was passed in 1947, immediately after independence and the act started functioning from 1949. This act was further amended in 1959 according to the recommendations made by Balwant Rai Mehta Committee.
The Bihar government enacted Bihar Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad Act in 1961. It came into force from 2nd October, 1963. According to these two acts, the entire state of Bihar was divided into three tier Panchayati Raj System beginning from the lowest level i.e.Gram Panchayat. The second tier is the Panchayat Samiti that works at block level and it is followed by Zila Parishad at district level. State Election Commission undertakes elections of Gram Panchayats.
Salient Features of Panchayati Raj in Bihar
In response to the 73rd constitutional amendment, Bihar Panchayati Raj Act, 2006 was enacted to strengthen the three-tier panchayat system in the state.
The salient features of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Bihar :
➤ There is reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (16%) and Scheduled Tribes (1%) in every Panchayat.
➤ The Bihar government has given 50% reservation to women in the local Panchayats. It is the first Indian state to do so. It is also legalised in other certain states such as Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
➤ Around 20% reservation is given to extremely Backward Classes.
➤ The duration of a Panchayat is for 5 years and there has to be four meetings of Gram Sabha within one year.
Three Tier Structure of Panchayati Raj System
The Panchayati Raj system has a three tier or levels of governance i.e. Zila Parishad, Panchayat Samiti and Gram Panchayat. The Chairpersons of the Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad are called Mukhiya, Pramukh and Adhyaksha, respectively.
i. Zila Parishad
This is the highest level of the three tier structure. The Governor of state is required to constitute a Finance Commission every 5 years to revive financial position of the Panchayats. The Chairman of all the Panchayat Samitis under the district are the ex-officio members of the Zila Parishad.
The Members of Parliament and the members of State Legislative Assembly representing a part or whole of the district whose constituencies lie within the district are also the members of Zila Parishad. As per Bihar Panchayat Election Rules 2006, in the first meeting the President, Vice President and elected members take oath in front of District Magistrate. The meeting of the Parishad is necessary to be called at least once in three months. The meetings can take place in district headquarters or any other place within the district.
Composition A Zila Parishad or District Council is formed on the population of 50000 (approx), out of which there has to be one representative elected. There are 38 Zila Parishads or District Councils in Bihar.Members of the Zila Parishad are elected from the district on the basis of adult franchise for a term of 5 years. Each Zila Panchayat is headed by a President and Vice-President, who are elected by and from among the elected members. Each Zila Panchayat has a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). A Zila Panchayat is constituted for each district.
Functions The functions of Zila Parishad :
➤ Management of agricultural activities, land improvement, soil conservation.
➤ Management of minor irrigation projects, developing ground water resources and watershed development programmes.
➤ Provision of rural electrification, district roads, housing, health and education.
➤ Developing and regulating markets for horticultural, agricultural and dairy products.
➤ Undertaking poverty alleviation programmes, social reform activities, etc.
Sources of Income The sources of income of Zila Parishad are the taxes imposed on persons carrying on business in rural areas, taxes on brokers, taxes on commission agents in markets established by them, taxes on sales of goods in these markets and taxes on land revenue.
ii. Panchayat Samiti
This is the second level of the Panchayati Raj Institution. A Panchayat Samiti is constituted for each block. The members of Panchayat Samiti are elected at the level of Panchayats. The term of one Panchayat samiti is for five years. The meeting of the Samiti is necessary to be called for at least once in two months.
Composition A Panchayat Samiti is formed on the population of 5000 (approx), out of which there has to be one representative elected. Every Panchayat Samiti consists of:
➤ Members, who are elected by the voters in the block. Each block is divided into voting constituencies, usually between 10-25 and each constituency elects a member.
➤ All members of the State Legislative Assembly returned from the constituencies which wholly or partly fall within the block and one-fifth of the Gram Panchayat.
➤ Sarpanchs in the territorial area of the block on a rotational basis for a period of one year. The Sarpanchs are selected by drawing lots.
Each Panchayat Samiti is headed by a President and Vice President, who are elected by and from the elected members. Each Panchayat Samiti also has a Chief Executive Officer. Some of the functions of Janpad Panchayat are:
➤ Consideration of annual plans of all Gram Panchayats within the samiti.
➤ Preparation of annual budget and its submission to Zila Parishad.
➤ Continuation of all programmes and projects entrusted to it by the Zila Parishad.
Sources of Income The main sources of income of Panchayat Samitis are grants-in-aid and loans from the State Government.
iii. Gram Panchayat
This is the third or lowest level of three tier system.Gram Panchayats are the smallest units of elected local-self governance, found at the village level. The Gram Sabha is a general body of electors, whereas the Gram Panchayat is an executive elected body. The executive has to perform its duties as per directions given by the Gram Sabha.
Composition Gram Panchayat shall be constituted in rural areas with a population of 7000 or more.One member has to be elected from each Panchayat consisting of 500 people. Each Gram Panchayat area is divided into not less than 10 and not more than 20 wards and each ward elects one ward member and one Panch.
The Gram Panchayat consists of the elected ward members and a Mukhiya, who is the head of the Gram Panchayat. An up-Mukhiya is also elected, who acts as the Deputy Mukhiya. Each Gram Panchayat also has a Secretary, who may serve one or more Gram Panchayats. Panch, Sarpanch and up-Sarpanch (Deputy Sarpanch) are elected by electorals of Gram Panchayat having judicial power in Panchayati Raj.
Some of the functions of Gram Panchayats are:
➤ Provision of drinking water, housing, electrification, etc.
➤ Maintenance of essential statistics of villages.
➤ Preparation of annual plans, annual budget in the Panchayat area.
➤ Construction and maintenance of cattle sheds, ponds, public parks, playground, garbage bins, dharamshalas and similar institutions.
➤ Regulation and management of markets, fairs and festivals.
Sources of Income The sources of income of Gram Panchayats are grants from the State Government.
The Bihar Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development (BIPARD) is one of the most important regulatory departments of the State Government. The department has created a group of master resource persons to impart training to IT personnel and implement the e-Panchayat mission mode project.
Urban Self Government (Bihar GK in English)
According to the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992, all state governments have to make provisions for local self government in urban areas.The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992 proclaims the formation of urban local bodies.
Urban Local Bodies in Bihar
The urban local bodies in Bihar are operating in the state since 1920. The Government of British India passed the Bihar and OrissaMunicipal Act in 1922 according to which various Municipalities and Notified Area Committees were constituted.
The rules came into effect from 1st April, 1929.The PatnaMunicipal Corporation was formed after the Patna Municipal Act 1951. The Municipalities in Bihar were notified as Municipal Council/Nagar Parishad and Notified Area Committees as Nagar Panchayats and reconstituted after the 1951 Act on the basis of population and level of urbanisation. The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act made it mandatory for state governments to give clear and well defined functions, responsibilities to Urban Local Bodies.
The Bihar Legislature enacted the BiharMunicipal Act 2007 replacing all previous acts of the formation and working of the urban local bodies in Bihar. As per the act, the Bihar Government is required to prepare municipal accounting manuals to look after the income and expenditure of the urban local bodies. The Bihar State Government has given fifty percent reservation to women, twenty percent reservation to backward classes and some percentage of seats to SC and ST in urban local bodies. Apart from Municipal Corporations,Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats, there are township and cantonment boards to look after the urban and semi-urban areas in Bihar.
Three Tier Structure of Urban Local Bodies
The three tier structure of urban local bodies is explained below:
i. Municipal Corporation ii. Municipal Council iii. Nagar Panchayat
i. Municipal Corporation in Bihar
As per Census 2011, the state of Bihar is having 12 Municipal Corporations. The population of the twelve cities is more than two lakhs. The first city of Bihar to get a Municipal Corporation wasMuzaffarpur. The Patna Municipal Corporation was established on 5th August, 1952. The Corporation receives its funds by way of taxes, rents and government grants.Muzaffarpur Municipal Corporation is reserved for Backward Classes and Gaya Municipal Corporation is reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The cities with Municipal Corporation in Bihar have population ranging from five to ten lakhs or more. The Corporations have divided the city into wards.
There are 45-75 wards in each of the big cities like Patna, Begusarai,Gaya, etc.
List of Municipal Corporations in Bihar
Patna Municipal Corporation
Gaya Municipal Corporation
Bhagalpur Municipal Corporation
Muzaffarpur Municipal Corporation
Munger Municipal Corporation
Purnea Municipal Corporation
Darbhanga Municipal Corporation
Bihar Sharif Municipal Corporation
Arrah Municipal Corporation
Begusarai Municipal Corporation
Chhapra Municipal Corporation
Katihar Municipal Corporation
ii. Municipal Council
The Municipal Councils (Nagar Parishad) operating in Bihar take care of small cities, towns and semi urban areas. Usually these places have a population ranging from 40000-200000. These towns/small cities are distributed into wards ranging from 25 to 45. The Municipal Council is headed by Chairman and other members.
iii. Nagar Panchayats
Nagar Panchayats in Bihar operate in those areas that are undergoing a transition from rural to urban areas. These areas usually have a population from 12000-40000 people. They are distributed into wards ranging from 10 to 25. The Nagar Panchayat is headed by Chairman and ten other members, all of them are elected by general elections in their respective wards.
Members of Urban Local Bodies
The Mayor (also called Chairman) is the head of the urban local body and presides over the meetings of the corporations and is also responsible for general governance of the body.Mayor is elected through general elections.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is a full time principal executive officer of the Corporation/Nagar Panchayat. CEO is appointed by the State Government.His functions include general supervision, organise board meetings, get budget estimates, monitoring and implementation of schemes.
Reservation of Seats in Urban Local Bodies
Article 243 of State Legislature provides for the reservation of seats in the municipalities for the SCs, STs and the women. The Act provides reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women including the number of seats reserved for SC and ST for women. Act 243 provides provisions to the state to declare reservation of seats according to their conditions in the state.
Functionaries of Urban Local Bodies
According to Article 243,Twelfth Schedule of the Constitution, there are 18 functional items included in the municipalities like urban planning, regulation of land, planning for economic and social development, building of roads and bridges, etc.