Why in News?
- Recently, The Chhattisgarh government has formulated draft rules under PESA Act, 1996, terming it the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Provisions (Extension of the Scheduled) Rules, 2021.
What is the PESA Act, 1996? Why are its rules being formed in the state now?
- The Panchayat (Extension of the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA, was enacted by the Centre to ensure self-governance through gram sabhas (village assemblies) for people living in scheduled areas.
- It legally recognises the right of tribal communities, residents of the scheduled areas, to govern themselves through their own systems of self-government, and also acknowledges their traditional rights over natural resources.
- In pursuance of this objective, PESA empowers gram sabhas to play a key role in approving development plans and controlling all social sectors.
- This includes the processes and personnel who implement policies, exercising control over minor (non-timber) forest resources, minor water bodies and minor minerals, managing local markets, preventing land alienation and regulating intoxicants among other things.
- State governments were required to amend their respective Panchayat Raj Acts without making any law that would be inconsistent with the mandate of PESA
Why are rules under PESA important? What topics will be covered?
- PESA rules enable the residents of scheduled areas to strengthen their village-level bodies by transferring power from the government to the gram sabha, a body of all the registered voters of the village.
- The powers of gram sabhas include maintenance of cultural identity and tradition, control over schemes affecting the tribals, and control over natural resources within the area of a village.
- The PESA Act thus enables gram sabhas to maintain a safety net over their rights and surroundings against external or internal conflicts.
- Without proper rules, its implementation is not possible as it is an exercise in decentralising the power from institutionalised structures, back to the village residents.
- The laws, once formed, will give gram sabhas the power to take decisions not only over their customs and traditionally managed resources, but also on the minerals being excavated from their areas.
- The rules also give power to the gram sabhas over management of resources over jal, jangal, zameen (water, forest and land), the three major demands of tribals; minor forest produce; mines and minerals; markets; and human resources.
- The gram sabha would have the powers to monitor and prohibit the manufacturing, transport, sale and consumption of intoxicants within their village limits.
- It also has a duty to maintain peace and resolve conflicts arising in the village, while protecting tribal customs and traditions, and encouraging customs like ghotul.