Local government which are function in villages are called Village Panchayats. The President and ward members are directly elected by the people. (Those who have attained the age above 18 to contest in the election one must have attained the age of 21 years) and their term of office is five years. District Collector act as the Inspector of Village Panchayat. Village Panchayats are constituted in each and every village wherever the population is above 500.
Functions of the Village Panchayat
• Supply of drinking water
• Maintenance of street lights
• Maintanence of roads
• Maintanence of Village libraries
• Maintanence of small bridges
• Granting permission to the housing plots
• Maintanence of drainage
• Construction of group houses
• Cleaning of streets
• Maintanence of burial grounds
• Maintanence of common lavatory facilities
According to the Tamil Nadu Local Government Act passed in 1994, the following functions to be performed as voluntary functions to be local governments
• Maintanence of street lights in the villages
• Maintanence of markets and fairs
• Implantation of trees
• Maintanence of play grounds
• Maintanence of parking vehicles, slaughter houses and cattle sheds
• Control over places of exhibition
Village Panchayat was the only one local government which was empowered to levy taxes in the three-tier system of Village Panchayat.
Historical Origin and Development of Local self Government in Tamil Nadu
In the post independence era, the first enactment in democratic decentralisation in the state was the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1950. Pursuant to the White paper on the ‘Reform of local Administration’ in 1957, the Madras panchayats Act, 1958 and Madras District Development Council Act were enacted with the following salient features.
• Property Tax
• Professional Tax
• House Tax
• Taxes for connection of drinking water
• Land Tax
• Taxes levied on shops
Meeting of Gram Sabha
In each and every village,the people living within its jurisdiction will be the members of panchayat. The President of the Panchayat will preside over its meetings. In the meeting of the Grama Sabha, the income and expenditure and the beneficiary of the schemes in the village are discussed.
Meetings of the Grama Sabha are conducted four times a year
1. January 26 – Republic Day
2. May 1 – Labourer Day
3. August 15 – Independence Day
4. October 2 – Gandhi jayanthi
Panchayat Union is formed by grouping of villages. Members of the Panchayat Union are directly elected by the people. The Chairman of the Panchayat Union is chosen from among the members.
Functions of the Panchayat Union
• supply of drinking water
• Maintanence of Village Health centres
• Maintanence of roads
• Establishment of Maternity Homes
• Establishment of Public fairs
• Establishment of Veterinary hospitals
• Maintanence of Social forests
• Repairing of Primary School buildings
The district collector, planning officer, concerned to supervise the development functions of the Panchayat Union.
A district Panchayat is constituted in each district. One district Panchayat is constituted for every 50,000 people and the ward members are directly elected by the people. The Chairman is elected from one among its members and their term is 5 years.
Functions of District Panchayat
- Advising the government about the developmental schemes of the Village Panchayat and Panchayat Union.
- Supervising the functions of District planning Commission.
The area where more than 10,000 people live is called a Town Panchayat. Members and President of the town Panchayat are directly elected by the people. There is an Executive officer to look after the administration of the Town Panchayat and their term of office is 5 years and he is appointed by the government.
The area where more than 1,00,000 people live is called a Municipality. The Members and the directly elected by the people and their term of office is five years. A Municipal Commissioner is appointed by the government to administer the Municipality.
Municipal corporations are established in big cities where the city has many lakhs of population. The Municipal Commissioner is the Administrative Officer. The Mayor is the Chairman of the corporation. The term of office of the Mayor and other members is five years.
The Municipal Commissioner will be a person from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). All the decisions of the Corporation Council will be implemented by him. He will be assisted by the office of the corporation.
Important functions of the Mayor
• He acts as a bridge between the members of the corporation and the government
• He presides over the meetings of the Corporation Council
• He receives the dignitaries from foreign countries
Types of other Panchayats
• Notified Area Committee
• Town Area Committee
• Cantonment Board
• Port Trust
• Special Purpose Agency
Elections to the local government in Tamil Nadu
The State Election Commission conducts the elections to the local government like general elections. The electrol roll is prepared ward wise. Seats are reserved for the SC &ST and also for the women in proportion to the population by rotation basis.
Problems and Challenges facing the Local Self Governments
Local self goverments are the crucial basis for our democracy. The Constitutional status of local self goverments adds more significance to their functioning. There are, however,a few critical concerns in the working of local self goverments in India. Major problems and Challenges may be mentioned as below:
• Lack of clear demarcation of powers and functions of local bodies
• Allocation of funds and needs assessment are not matched
• Role of caste, class and religion in decision-making at the local self goverments
• Poor accountability of elected members and officials at the grassroot levels of democracy