The villages in ancient India had always been autonomous units and their characteristic feature in administration was the prevalence of freedom and autonomy in governing the village institutions.
During the British Administration some efforts were made to revive the local self-governing institutions in India with a view to train the people in the administration of such institutions by giving them representation in these local bodies.
Vidarbha organised its gram panchayats and nyaya panchayats in 1946. After the reorganisation of the erstwhile State of Bombay, the Village Panchayats Act was passed in 1958 under which a village panchayat mandal was set up for every district. Along with this step, nyaya panchayats were also organized for groups of five or more village panchayats.
With the attainment of freedom, India started efforts towards economic and social advancement and planned economy was accepted as the guiding principle. Community Development Programmes and National Extension Service were envisaged to improve the lot of the rural populace. But after a lapse of time the Government realised that the progress of rural development was not commensurate with the expectations and that this was mainly due to non-participation of the villagers in the implementation of such developmental schemes though a trend could be noticed among the masses for undertaking more developmental activities. To investigate into the causes behind such a state of affairs the Government appointed a Committee called ' Balwantrai Mehta Committee '.
The Balwantrai Mehta Committee visited the developmental activities, interviewed government officials and social workers. The report submitted by the Committee pointed out that the Government could not succeed in appealing and attracting leadership of the masses in participating in the Community Development and National Developmental schemes because the local self-governing institutions did not take any deep interest in such work. There was too much of government interference
in the working of the local bodies. The Committee found
remedy in the decentralisation of power and responsibility at
the lower level. It, therefore, suggested that the responsibility
for such regional and local development work should be assigned
to such local bodies at the district level with Government
accepting the role of guiding, supervising and planning from a
higher level, making available the required finances and so on.
It recommended the formation of local committees on par with
Block Development Committees to be named as Panchayat
Samitis and at district level a district committee to be called as
Zilla Parishad. Thus the Gram Panchayat, the Panchayat
Samiti and the Zilla Parishad became the three responsible
functionaries in the decentralization of administration. They
are entrusted with the implementation of the developmental
Accordingly, the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act was passed in 1961 (No. V of 1962). The Act provides for the establishment of Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis in rural areas and to assign to them the functions of a local government. The Act also envisages to entrust the execution of certain works and schemes in the, State Five-Year Plans to such bodies. It also provides for the decentralisation of powers and functions with the definite object of promoting the development of democratic institutions.
Powers and Functions.
In what follows are described in brief the powers and functions of the President, the Vice-President and other official and non-official authorities of the Zilla Parishad: --
(a) has to preside over the meetings of the Zilla Parishad;
(b) has access to the Zilla Parishad records;
(c) discharges all the duties imposed, and exercises all the
powers conferred on him by or under the Act;
(d) supervises the financial and executive administration and
submits to the Parishad all problems connected therewith which require its orders and
(e) exercises administrative supervision and control over the
Chief Executive Officer for securing implementation
of resolutions or decisions of the Zilla Parishad or of
the Standing Committee, or of any Subjects Committee, or of any Panchayat Samiti.
The President in cases of emergency directs the execution on suspension or stoppage of any work or the doing of any act which requires the sanction of the Zilla Parishad or any authority thereof, and immediate execution or doing of which, in his opinion, is necessary for the service or safety of the public, and may direct that the expense of executing such work or doing such act shall be paid from the District Fund:
Provided that, he shall report forthwith the action taken under this section, and the full reasons thereof to the Zilla
Parishad, the Standing Committee and the appropriate Subjects
Committee at their next meeting and the Zilla Parishad or the
Committee may amend or annul the direction made by the
(a) in the absence of the President, presides over the meetings of the Zilla Parishad;
(b) exercises such of the powers and performs such of the duties of the President as the President from time to time subject to the rules made by the State Government in this behalf, delegates to him by an order in writing; and
(c) pending the election of a President, or during the absence of the President, exercises the powers and performs the duties of the President.
Chairman of Standing Committee or Subject Committee.
Subject to the provisions of the Act, and the rules made
thereunder by the State Government, the Chairman of the
Standing Committee or a Subjects Committee-
(i) convenes, presides over and conducts the meetings of the
(ii) has access to the records of the Committee.
The Chairman of any such Committee, in relation to subjects allotted to the Committee can-
(i) call for any information, return, statement, accounts of report from any officer employed by or holding office under the Zilla Parishad or any servant thereof; and
(ii) enter on and inspect any immovable property occupied by the Zilla Parishad or any institution under the control and management of the Zilla Parishad or any work or development scheme in progress undertaken by the Zilla Parishad or under its direction:
Provided that, the Chairman of the Standing Committee may, in relation to any subject allotted to any Subjects Committee, also exercise the powers under this clause;
(iii) the Chairman of the Standing Committee can grant leave of absence for any period exceeding two months, but not exceeding four months, to any officer of Class I Service (other than the Chief Executive Officer) or Class II Service holding office under the Zilla Parishad.
Save as otherwise provided by or under this Act. the powers to be exercised and the duties to be discharged by the Standing Committee and each of the Subjects Committees, are such as may be prescribed by regulations; but all subjects in relation to social welfare enumerated in the District List are allotted to the Standing Committee.
Powers and Duties of the Executive Officers.
A Chief Executive Officer, a Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Block Development Officers, and the Heads of various depart- ments of the Zilla Parishad are the executive officers of the Zilla Parishad. They are all gazetted officers and are transferable by the State Government to other districts. The Chief Executive Officer belongs to the cadre of Indian Administrative Service and his rank is equal to that of a Collector. The Deputy Chief Executive Officer is an officer of the rank of the Deputy Collector. The Block Development Officers are Class II Officers while the Heads of the Departments are either Class I or Class 11 Officers. All the executive officers draw their pay and allowances from the consolidated fund of the State except travelling allowance (other than travelling allowance on transfer) which is drawn from the District Fund.
The Chief Executive Officer-
(i) lays down the duties of all the officers and servants of or holding office under the Zilla Parishad in accordance with the rules made by the State Government;
(ii) is entitled to call for any information, return, statement, account or report from any officer or servant of, or holding office under the Zilla Parishad;
(iii) supervises and controls all the activities of the Zilla Parishad:
(iv) has power to possess papers and documents connected with the proceedings of meetings of the Zilla Parishad and of its' committees (excluding Panchayat Samitis);
(v) draws and disburses money out of the District Fund;
(vi) exercises supervision and control over the officers and servants holding office under the Zilla Parishad in matters of executive administration and those relating to accounts and records of the Zilla Parishad;
(vii) is entitled to attend the meetings of the Zilla Parishad or any of its committees (including any Panchayat Samiti);
(viii) any of the powers conferred or duties or functions imposed upon or vested in the Chief Executive Officer by or under the Act. are also exercised, performed or discharged under the control of the Chief Executive Officer and subject to such conditions and limitations, if any, as he may think fit to lay down, by any officer or servant holding office under the Zilla Parishad to whom the Chief Executive Officer generally or specially empowers by order in writing; all such orders of the Chief Executive Officer are, however, to be laid before the President, the Standing Committee and the relevant Subject Committees for information:
(ix) assesses and gives his opinion confidentially every year on the work of the officers of Class I Service and Class II Service holding office under the Zilla Parishad; forwards them to such authorities as are prescribed by the State Government
and lays down the procedure for writing such reports about
the work of officers and servants of Class III Service and
Class IV service under the Zilla Parishad.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer is the Secretary, ex- officio, of the Zilla Parishad, as well as the Standing Committee.[ Sections 9 and 79 of the Act.]
The Block Development Officer: -
(i) has the custody of all papers and documents connected with the proceedings of meetings of the Panchayat Samitis;
(ii) is the Secretary, ex-officio, of the Panchayat Samiti;[Section 57 of the Act.]
(iii) subject to the general orders of the Chief Executive Officer, grants leave of absence to officer or servant of Class III Service or of Class IV Service of the Zilla Parishad working under the Panchayat Samiti;
(iv) calls for any information, return, statement, account, report, or explanation from any of the officers or servants working under the Panchayat Samiti;
(v) draws and disburses money out of the grant or rents payable to the Panchayat Samiti under section 185; and
(vi) in relation to the works and development schemes to he
undertaken from the block grants, exercises such powers of
sanctioning acquisition of property, sale or transfer thereof, as
are specified by the State Government.
Head of the Department: -
(i) Every head of the Department of the Zilla Parishad in respect of. works and development schemes pertaining to his department, accords technical sanction thereto.
(ii) He assesses and gives his opinion confidentially every
year on the work of officers of Class II Service working in his
department and forwards them to the Chief Executive
(iii) The head of department, specified in this behalf, is the Secretary, ex-officio, of such Subject Committees as the Zilla Parishad may direct.
The Amravati Zilla Parishad was established on May 1, 1962.
It is composed of 47 elected councillors, one co-opted woman councillor, 5 associate councillors (Chairmen of five federal cooperative societies) and 13 ex-officio councillors. The Chief Executive Officer is the administrative head of the Zilla Parishad.
As per the provisions contained in section 78 of the Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961, the Zilla Parishad has appointed the following Committees, viz., Standing Committee, Finance Committee, Works Committee, Agriculture Committee, Co-operative Committee, Education Committee and Health Committee.
The General Administration department of the Zilla Parishad deals with non-technical matters such as establishment, parishad
revenue, panchayats, social welfare and planning. The General Administration department is controlled and directed by the Standing Committee of the Zilla Parishad. The Deputy Chief Executive Officer is its Secretary and he heads the General Administration department. He is assisted by an Administrative Officer, a Revenue Officer, a Social Welfare Officer and two Area Organizers for tribal welfare. The Social Welfare section of the department is in charge of a District Social Welfare Officer, who is a Gazetted Officer. He is entrusted with the work of implementation of various schemes for the uplift and welfare of the backward classes. The amelioration of the backward classes is sought by granting them various educational and financial concessions and through cultural activities. A provision of Rs. 11.50,000 was made for social welfare schemes during 1962-63.
The Finance department of the Zilla Parishad is divided into four branches, viz., audit, budget, compilation and works. It is headed by the Chief Accounts and Finance Officer, who is a Class I Gazetted Officer. He is assisted by the Accounts Officer. The Finance department is controlled by the Finance Committee of the Zilla Parishad with the Chief Accounts and Finance Officer as its Secretary.
The expected income of the Zilla Parishad including extraordinary and debt heads as per the budget provisions for the year 1962-63 was Rs. 1,29,19,776 comprising local cess, Rs. 6,11,000; other taxes and fees, Rs. 1,02,000; interest, Rs. 2,000: amount to be received from the Government under Motor Vehicles Act, Rs. 3,800; income from fees from schools and other items, Rs. 28,779; income from fees from dispensaries and other items, Rs. 7,855; income from fairs, fares from the patients carried in UNICEF vans and other items, Rs. 26.500; income from land and crop protection implements, Rs. 47,808; veterinary dispensaries, Rs. 4,600; industries, Rs. 4,160 and income from Government grants, Rs. 1,19,67,887.
During the same period the expenditure including extraordinary and debt heads of the Zilla Parishad was estimated at Rs. 1,54.17.018. Thus the Zilla Parishad had an estimated net deficit of Rs. 24.97,242 for the year 1962-63.
The Agriculture department of the Zilla Parishad is headed by the Agricultural Development Officer who has to exercise technical and administrative control and to execute and supervise the departmental activities in the district. The department is controlled by the Agriculture Committee of the Zilla Parishad. Since the formation of the Zilla Parishad, the Agriculture department has made great progress in the programme for intensive and extensive cultivation for kharif and rabi crops especially for jowar, groundnut and cotton. The department has installed 29 pumps and has constructed 285 wells towards irrigation. Under the rural compost scheme, 1,000 pits have
been dug. The department has so far distributed Ammonium
Sulphate, 1,300 tons; Ammonium-Sulphate-Nitrate, 58 tons;
Urea, 287 tons; Nitro Phosphate, 178 tons and Super Phosphate, 387 tons. Side grafting was done on 130 local mango trees with improved variety along with 345 bor trees. Spraying operations were completed on 1,027 acres of Citrus plantation in the district. Loans amounting to Rs. 50,000 were released to the cultivators for the plantation of new orchards. Under the rust resistant wheat scheme 402 quintals of wheat seed of HY65 variety was distributed. Under the green manuring programme 1,400 maunds of sann seed were distributed.
The whole district is now brought under the activities of the farmer's unions. About 1,584 villages in the district are covered by 1,142 farmer's unions with 57,771 members. Taluka farmer's unions have been established in all the six tahsils while the District Farmer's Union has also been organized at the district level.
The animal husbandry section controlled by the District Animal Husbandry Officer deals with the treatment of sick animals, and carries out vaccination against the various diseases of live-stock and breeding of animals.
The Industries and Co-operation department of the Zilla Parishad is in charge of a Co-operation and Industries Officer. The department is controlled and directed by the Co-operation Committee of the Zilla Parishad with Co-operation and Industries Officer as its Secretary. The department administers the extension and promotional activities of the co-operative societies as the regulatory functions have been retained by the Co-operative department in the State sector. The department also deals with the grant of loans to small-scale and cottage industries under State Aid to Industries Rules, 1961, grant of loans to educated unemployed, grant of financial assistance to bona fide craftsmen and backward class artisans, grant of subsidies to industrial co-operatives and loans to industrial societies.
Since the formation of the Zilla Parishad, the department has registered 39 co-operative societies comprising sewa sahakari societies, 16; dairy societies, 8: industrial societies, 5; purchase and sale societies 3; labour contract societies 3; farming society, 1; housing society, 1 and crop protection societies, 2. The department has sanctioned Rs. 4,996 to fifteen industrial co-operative societies as management subsidy. An amount of Rs. 1.000 has been sanctioned to an industrial society under the handicraft scheme. An amount of Rs. 1,030 as loan and an equal amount of subsidy have been sanctioned to a society for tools and equipments.
The Parishad Education Officer heads the Education department of the Zilla Parishad. He also works as the Secretary of the Education Committee. The Education Committee of the Zilla Parishad guides and directs the working of the Education
department. Technical guidance and suggestions for improvement are made by the Director of Education, Maharashtra state.
The Zilla Parishad has under its control 1,089 boys' and 79 girls' primary schools, 28 and 4 Indian-English middle schools and 101 and 13 high schools and higher secondary schools. The department had spent up to December 31, 1962 Rs. 1,84.785 out of Rs. 3,89.810 allotted to it. The department also participates in the gram shikshan mohim aimed at imparting social education.
The Public Health Officer is the head of the Health department of the Zilla Parishad. He is also the Secretary of the Health Committee of the Zilla Parishad which guides and directs the functioning of the Health department. He is responsible for effecting measures to control epidemics, for maintaining the sanitation of the district and for all the medical and public health activities in the district except the civil hospital and the State controlled schemes. There are 11 primary health centres, 68 ayurvedic dispensaries, 19 allopathic dispensaries along with two sub-centre dispensaries of the primary health centres, seven family planning centres and six leprosy survey, education and treatment units in the district. The total budget estimates for the Health department, for the year 1962-63, amounted to Rs. 11.48,680.
The Works department of the Zilla Parishad is headed by the Parishad Executive Engineer who works as the Secretary of the Works Committee of the Zilla Parishad. The Works Committee guides and controls the activities of the department. The department maintains roads transferred to it from the ex-Janpad Sabhas which measure 244.60 km. (151.91 miles), and from the Buildings and Communications department which measure 468.32 km. (291.00 miles), The department controls five public ferry services. It has also undertaken five minor irrigation schemes.