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April 24,1993 is a red-letter day in the history of Panchayati Raj in India as on this day the constitution (73 rd Amendment) Act,1992 came into force to provide constitutional status to the Panchyati Raj institutions.

73rd Amendment Act, 1992

The salient features of the Act are :-

Powers and Responsibilities

According to the Constitution, Panchayats shall be given powers and authority to function as institutions of self-government. The following powers and responsibilities are to be delegated to Panchayats at the appropriate level :-

Gram Sabha

In the Panchayati Raj set up, the Gram Sabha, the general assembly of villagers, has a key role for effective functioning of Panchayats. In the Gram Sabha meeting, the rural poor, the women and the marginalised people would now get an opportunity to join in decision making on matters affecting their lives. Active functioning of the Gram Sabha would ensure a participatory democracy with transparency, accountability and achievement.

The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas ) Act, 1996

This Act extends Panchayats to the tribal areas of eight States, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan. This has come into force on 24 th December, 1996. Except Rajasthan and Bihar all States have passed laws to give effect to the provisions contained in the Act, 40 of 1996.

Under the Act, Gram Sabha has been vested with powers for :-

Training and awareness generation programme

The Ministry of Rural Development extends limited financial assistance to the States in their effort to train and create awareness among the elected members of Panchayats and functionaries. The State Governments are being asked to conduct such training courses. The Ministry has also been providing financial assistance through the Council for Advancement of People’s Action & Rural Technology (CAPART) to the non-governmental organisations for conducting training and awareness generation programmes on Panchayati Raj. This Ministry also commissions research and evaluation studies related to Panchayati Raj from voluntary organisations/institutions.