To empower rural and urban local governments and integrate citizens in the process of governance, the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1992 introduced the 73rd and 74th amendment to the Constitution. But, even though the 73rd amendment was implemented across village panchayats over the years and ‘gram sabhas’ were created under it, in Tamil Nadu, rules required to organise ‘area sabha’ meetings under the 74th amendment haven’t been framed for the past nine years.
With the Tamil Nadu government gearing up to conduct the inordinately-delayed local body polls, Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, a social organization based in Tamil Nadu, has found it an opportune moment to pitch for the constitution of area sabhas in the state. The organisation on Monday (July 8) shot letters to district collectors across the state in this regard.
An Area Sabha constitutes a body of electors under one or more polling booths in a ward, and almost resembles the size of a gram sabha.
Speaking to The Federal, Siva Elango, president, SPI said at least rural areas have village panchayats where people can voice their concerns through gram sabhas, but no such forums are available under municipalities and corporations.
“The Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act 1920, under which municipalities and corporations are governed was amended in 2010, introducing ‘ward sabhas’. However, the rules which are required to organise area sabha meetings haven’t been framed for the past nine years. Hence, we have written to all district collectors, which is timely, especially when there is an ongoing debate on the demand for grants to the department of municipal administration and water supply,” he said.
However, in the neighbouring states of Kerala and Karnataka the ‘Area Sabhas’ are conducted regularly and implemented well, he added.