How PESA, an Act of Parliament is Being Subverted in Jharkand

Written by Stan Swamy | Published on: February 10, 2018
The Jharkand government is all set to completely sideline and subvert thePanchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) or PESA Act of 1996 that empowers the elected Gram Sabhas and gives them clearly defined powers. Instead, the Jharkhand government plans to give greater power to ad hoc Gram VikasSamitis which do not have any transparency or accountability. Through a mere oral announcement by the chief minister of Jharkand, a 'Adivasi aur Gram VikasSamiti (GVS)' is to be set up in all the 32,000 villages of Jharkhand in view of bringing about 'development' in each village. In view of the land grab record of this government, it is anybody's guess what this 'model of development' is likely to be!

PESA ACT

The 1996 PESA Act is an Act of the Parliament which has deliberately been left unimplemented. Now just before the central & state elections are due to take place, the Jharkand government is attempting to show that it has at long last woken to the need for rural development.

A comparison of PESA and GVS will bring out the contradictions:
  1. PESA is an act of Parliament WHEREAS Gram VikasSamiti(GVS) is an off-hand announcement by the Chief Minister of Jharkhand at a recent public meeting;
  2. PESA empowers Gram Sabha for over-all self-governance WHEREAS Gram VikasSamiti  primarily focuses on water management as well as all development activities;
  3. PESA aims to achieve its goal through Gram Sabha WHEREAS Gram VikasSamiti sets up a small development committee;
  4. PESA empowers the Adivasi traditional leader as the President WHEREAS Gram VikasSamiti prescribes that a woman be the President without specifying through what process she will be selected/elected;
  5. PESA stipulates that all the members of the village community above the age of 18 will compose the Gram Sabha WHEREAS Gram VikasSamiti appoints a Secretary between 18-35 years of age, again without specifying the mode of selection/election;                                                                                
  6. PESA empowers the whole village community to choose the beneficiaries for govt’s welfare schemes WHEREAS Gram VikasSamiti leaves it to the discretion of the President and Secretary; the role of village community is not mentioned.                                                                                                                  [source of info on Adivasi aur Gram VikasSamiti: PrabhatKhabar, Ranchi ed., 6-2-2018]

Points of concern:
1) Jharkhand govt is guilty of not implementing PESA Act,1996 because the Act gives significant powers to Gram Sabha;                                                                                                                                                 
2)  Such an off-hand announcement of setting up Gram VikasSamiti  in all 32,000 villages is not to be taken seriously… it is in view of forthcoming election!                                                               
3) Completely ignoring the traditional system and leadership of Adivasi community is an insult to the Adivasi People;           
                                                                         
All Jharkhandi parties, people’s movements / organizations should come together to denounce this casual treatment of Adivasi, Moolvasi People of the State.Here is the latest manipulation by Jharkhand govt with regard to ‘self-governance’ by Adivasi Communities.

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