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Examine the significance of Gram Sabhas, as mentioned in Article 243A of the Indian constitution,
in the development process with special reference to Fifth Schedule areas. (150 words)
पाँचवीं अनुसूची पर विशेष ध्यान देते हुए भारतीय संविधान के अनुच्छेद 243A के अनुसार सभाओं की महत्ता की चर्चा करें|
The Gram Sabha as provided for in Art. 243A as a body of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to a village, is the cornerstone of the entire scheme of democratic decentralization in India. Its significance is:-
Every adult of the village directly becomes a stakeholder in development process including examning annual statements, discussion development programmes, identification of beneficiaries etc.
It is crucial in mobilisation of voluntary labour and conducting community welfare programmes.
land acquisition or changes in forest rights need consent of Gram Sabha.
In reference to the Fifth Schedule Areas under Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 Gram Sabha has to safeguard and preserve traditions and customs of the people, community resources and customary mode of dispute resolution. Its powers include:
Ownership of minor forest produces.
Mandatory consultation during Land Acquisition.
Management of minor water bodies and control over mineral leases for minor minerals.
Prevent alienation of Schedule Tribes and also work to restore unlawfully alienated lands.
Controlling the business of money lending to Schedule Tribes.
The Gram Sabhas role has been demonstrated by cases like rejection of the Vedanta Mining Project in the interest of the tribals of Niyamgiri. However, we should ensure that states do not circumvent the authority of Gram Sabhas by diluting the provisions of Fifth Schedule and PESA for investments.