The department is represented at the district by the District Food and Supplies Controller, Bathinda. He is under the administrative control of the Director, Food and Supplies, Punjab, Chandigarh.
The office of the District Food and Supplies Controller, Bathinda was established on 1 April 1957. He is assisted by 4 District Food and Supplies Officers, 11 Assistant Food and Supplies Officers, 1 Superintendent, 1 Senior Auditor, 21 Junior Auditors, 3 Accountants, 1 Accounts Officer, 1 Statistical Assistant, 48 Inspectors, 68 Sub-Inspectors, 1 Head Analyst, 1 Junior Analyst, besides ministerial and Class IV staff.
The main functions of the department are : procurement of foodgrains; distribution of sugar, rice, kerosene, wheat-flour and vegetable ghee through fair price shops and the branches of co-operative/consumer’s stores in urban as well as rural operative/consumer’s stores in urban as well as rural areas; issue/ renewal of brick-kilns and fire-wood licences, allotment of coal/coke and cement; and checking of licences of foodgrains, rice-hullers, rice-shellers, kerosene, ghee, rice, sugar, yarn, etc. The department also maintains its own godowns for the storage of foodgrains.
In the Bathinda District, on 31 March 1989, there were 70,654 ration cards with 3,62,389 units in urban areas. However, in rural areas, there were 1,96,649 ration cards with 11,89,101 units. There were 666 fair price shops including co-operative stores, etc., functioning in the district.
The department is represented in the district by the Treasury Officer, Bathinda, who is in charge of the District Treasury. This office was established by the Pepsu Government in 1948 with its headquarters at Faridkot. The headquarters of the District Treasury were shifted from Faridkot to Bathinda in 1954. The District Treasury Officer is assisted by 5 Assistant Treasury Officers (in charge of the Sub-treasuries at Mansa, Phul Budhlada, Talwandi Sabo and Sardulgarh). 1 District Treasurer, 5 Assistant Treasurers, 2 Superintendents, 13 Assistants, besides ministerial and Class IV staff.
The main functions of Treasury Officer and Assistant Treasury Officer and Assistant Treasury Officers are to make receipts and payments on behalf of government; to maintain the accounts of the government; and storage of stamps, valuables, etc. They are also responsible to the Accountant General, Punjab for the regular submission of monthly accounts and allied returns, etc.
The department is represented at the district level by the deputy Economic and Statistical Adviser, Bathinda. This office was established in 1957. He is assisted by 1 District Statistical Officer, 1 Research Officer, 3 Technical Assistants, 5 Statistical Assistants, 13 Investigators, 1 Assistant, besides other ministerial and Class IV staff.
The main functions of the Deputy Economic and Statistical Adviser are : to co-ordinate the statistical activities of various offices at the district level and to publish statistical data; to improve the quality of the statistical work done at the district level; to conduct socio-economic surveys; to collect price date for supplying to the different Central and State agencies; to collect weekly retail prices; and to act as store of statistics for government institutions and interested public. Besides, this office helps the Planning Board in preparing district plans under the 20-Point Programme and arranges meetings in this respect every month.
The Language Department is represented at the district level by the District Language Officer, Bathinda, whose office was established on 2 October 1962. He is assisted by an Instructor, a Clerk, besides Class IV staff.
The main functions of the District Language Officers are : to inspect, help and guide the district offices regarding the introduction of official language, i.e. Punjabi; to hold classes for teaching Punjabi, Hindi to government employees; to impart training in Punjabi type-writing and short hand; to hold examinations in Punjabi and Hindi at district level; to assist the government offices in translating pamphlets/books in Punjabi; to organize literary seminars, dramas and Kavi darbars (poetic symposia) etc. This office also functions as a sales depot for the books published by the Language Department, Punjab.
The department is represented in the district by the Divisional Soil Conservation Officer, Bathinda, who is under the administrative control of the Chief Conservator of Soils, Punjab, Chandigarh. His office was established in the year 1974 by shifting the headquarters of the Divisional Soil Conservation Officer, Malout to Bathinda to take up the work of lining of common canal water courses in the district. He is assisted by 4 Assistant Soil Conservation Officers with headquarters at Bathinda, Rampura Phul, Talwandi Sabo and Mansa. Each Assistant Soil Conservation Officer is further assisted by 5 Soil Conservation Inspectors/Sectional Officers alongwith the supporting staff required for surveying, designing and execution of works of Soil and Water Management.
The main functions of the Department are to survey, investigate and to propose suitable soil and water conservation treatments such as reclamation of dunes, land leveling, land development, modernization of irrigation conveyance system in the field both for the private watercourses and the tube-wells. To popularize the water conservation concept by providing sprinkler, drip irrigation, construction of field sub-surface drainage for reclamation of waterlogged areas and to guide the farmers in applications of irrigation to the crops for efficient use of the available water. Upto the year 1988-89, 4,241 hectares of land had been leveled in Bathinda District. Besides, the department had laid 45.49 km of underground conveyance system for irrigation, and 1,469 km of common watercourses had been lined in the district by the department.
Urban local bodies are primary agencies for meeting social, cultural and physical needs of the citizens. They provide for a variety of services and public utilities for the convenience, healthy living and welfare of the individuals and the community residing within their jurisdiction. The growth of trade and industry and of the city in general also to a great extent depends upon the efficient performance of municipal services.
Local self-government in the Punjab as in other States of India, is of two kinds, namely urban local government and rural local government. The units of urban local government are municipal committees, improvement trusts and notified area committees. The units of the rural local government are the zila parishad, panchayat samitis and gram panchayats. These institutions act within the frame-work evolved by the State Government. These are manned and managed by persons drawn from amongst the public and are designed to create harmonious co-ordination in running the administration smoothly. In many respects, these institutions are autonomous, though they work under the constant vigilance and guidance of the State Government.
Historical Retrospect. – When the Gazetteer of Phulkian States was published in 1904, the local self-government system was being introduced in the princely State of Patiala. The major area of the present State of Bathinda District was a part of the then princely State of Patiala. Initially, small town committees were constituted in the princely states from the date as shown in portion (b) of this chapter.
Bathinda District was carved out as a separate unit in 1948 out of the territories of the erstwhile princely states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind and some portion of the former British territory of Firozpur District. Before the constitution of the small town committees/municipal committees in the district in the first half of the 20th century, the functions of the local bodies were performed by the government departments of the erstwhile princely states. The small town committees/municipal committees functioned under the Patiala Small Town Act, 1995 BK (AD 1938). In the beginning, these committees were formed as small town committees in the princely states which formed as small town committees in the princely states which were later on converted into Class III municipal committees. The municipal committees in PEPSU, were functioning as government departments and their employees were governed under the common laws of the State Government. Even in these days, the employees who were recruited in those days in these small municipal committees, are being given all the benefits available to the Punjab Government employees. The services to the Executive Officers of the municipal committees were governed by the Patiala Executive Officers’ Act and the Punjab Municipal (Executive Officers’) Act, 1931 in their respective territories. Under the Punjab Municipal (Executive Officers’) Act, the municipal committees used to appoint the Executive Officers subject to the approval of the government. In 1951, when the Faridkot Tahsil of the present Faridkot District was part of the Bathinda District, there were four municipal committees in the district at Bathinda, Faridkot, Kot Kapura and Mansa, besides 7 small town committees at5 Raman, Sangat, Kot Fatta, Maur, Bareta, Jaito, Goniana and Badhiada. From 1972, the municipal committees of Faridkot, Kot Kapura and Jaito were transferred to the newly created Faridkot District.
Prior to the merger of PEPSU in Punjab in November 1956, the functioning of the municipal committees was governed by the Patiala Small Town Act. On the integration of these states with Punjab, the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 were extended to the PEPSU area and hence also to Bathinda District. Since 1955, the small town committees constituted in the Punjab area had acquired the status of the Class III municipal committees. All enactments relating to the municipal administration in the Punjab State became applicable to the municipalities of Bathinda District also. Thereafter, elected bodies came into being under the Punjab Municipal act, 1911, which was in force in the Punjab. Provision was made for the appointment of official advisers who were empowered to participate in the meetings of the municipal committees but were not entitled to vote. In this way, popular control over the local bodies was encouraged and powers were granted with regard to the Zila Parishads were also strengthened with delegation of large powers and responsibilities of the local bodies. New election rules were framed to provide for election on the basis of universal adult franchise. Under the Punjab Municipal (Amended) Act, 1956, reservation was made for the members of Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes in the services of municipal committees. The term of office of a Municipal Commissioner was fixed as five years. The Patiala Executive Officers’ Act, as well as the Punjab Municipal (Executive Officers’), Act have been replaced, with effect from 6 April 1976 and certain categories of services of the Municipal bodies including the post of Executive Officer, have been provincialised. With the setting up of the Directorate of Local bodies in April 1966, the activities of these bodies are governed by the Director, Local Bodies, Punjab.
Functions and Duties of Municipal Committees. – Statutorily, the Punjab Municipal bodies have two types of functions, viz. obligatory and optional. Obligatory functions are those functions which every municipal committee ought to perform. These include public safety and convenience, medical relief, public works, public health etc. These functions include such activities as regulating or preventing the abetment of offensive or dangerous trades, removing obstructions and projections in pubic streets, lighting and cleaning of public streets, extinguishing of fires, making provision for and regulation of slaughter-houses, maintenance of burial and cremation grounds, picnic spot, drains and sewers and toilets, registration of births and deaths, arrangement for public vaccination, inoculation, primary education, etc. If a municipal committee does not make sufficient provisions in its budget for the performance of these obligatory functions, the State Government may compel it to do so; and if the committee still fails to perform these functions satisfactorily, the State Government may even supersede the committee and place it under the charge of its own officer.
The list of optional functions is comprehensive and includes construction and maintenance of public streets, public parks, gardens, libraries, museums, dharamshalas, rest-houses, lunatic asylums; furtherance of educational programmes other than primary education; planting and maintaining of roadside trees, killing of stray dogs, maintenance of dairy farms, breeding studs, holding of fairs, exhibitions, etc.
There are 11 municipal committees in Bathinda District, viz. Bathinda, Goniana, Bhucho Madi, Kot, Fatta, Sangat, Mansa Budhlada, Bareta, Raman Mandi, Maur Mandi and Rampura Phul. Out of these, 2 are Class I, 4 are Class II and 5 are Class III municipal committees. All these Municipal Committees have been superseded since 1985 and are functioning under the Administrators appointed by the State Government. The income and expenditure of each municipalities include house tax, octroi and toll tax, water rate, cinema show-tax, slaughter house tax, Tahbazari fee, licence fee on articles of food and drink, dangerous and offensive trades licence fee, carts and vehicle licence fee, building application fee, etc.
The Municipal Committee, Bathinda was first constituted in 1945 as a Small Town Committee in the erstwhile Patiala State. It was later on converted into a Class III municipal committee. At present, a Class I municipality is functioning in the town.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 20.72 sq. km. and its population was 1,27,363 persons.
The civic amenities being provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. The committee does not maintain any library of its own, but during 1988-89, it contributed Rs. 20,000 to the Public Library, Bathinda. Although the municipality is not running any dispensary, yet it has been paying Rs. 1,570 per month as rent of 3 government dispensaries functioning in the town at Amarpura Basti, Parsram Nagar and Ganesa Basti. The municipality has a well organized fire-fighting service. The water supply scheme was introduced in the town in 1954. For supplying drinking water to the expanding population of the city, the municipality during 1988-89 was operating 6 tube-wells. Besides, some canal water is also being supplemented for drinking purposes. The drains in most of the city area have been constructed within the municipal limits. The committee maintains 91 km of roads within the municipal area.
In the beginning, a small town committee was constituted in 2002 BK (AD 1945) and its status was changed to municipality in 1956. At present, a Class III municipality is functioning in the town.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 2.59 sq. km. And its population was 9,494 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. The water supply scheme was introduced in 1980. One tube-well has been installed by the municipality for supplying water regularly. The drainage system was introduced inn 1957 in the town. The electricity is being supplied in the municipal area since 1962. It also maintains 6 km of roads within the municipal limits.
Bhucho Mandi Municipality
The municipality was constituted on 21 July 1908 and at present, a Class III municipality is functioning in the town.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 0.44 sq. km and its population was 7,820 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. It maintains one library known as Gandhi Library, one reading room and one dispensary. The water supply scheme was introduced in 1963 and upto March 1982, a population of 7,200 out of 7,820 persons was covered under this scheme. For supplying water regularly, the municipality has installed 3 tubewells. The drainage system was introduced in the town in 1966 and upto 31 March 1989, 20 km of area of the town was covered it. Sine 1966, regular electricity has been supplied in the town area. The municipality maintains 8 km or roads within the municipal limits.
In the beginning, a small town committee was constituted in the area which was converted into a Class III municipality on 1 September 1983. Its status was raised to Class II municipality in 1969-70.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 2.59 sq. km. and its population was 15,968 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. It maintains one library and one reading room. The water supply scheme was introduced in 1963 in the town. The municipality has installed one tube-well. The drainage system was introduced in 1954 and 90 per cent of the area of the town had been covered by 31 March 1982. The electric supply was introduced in the town area in 1958. The municipality maintains 6.74 km of roads within the municipal limits.
The municipality was first constituted as small town committee on 13 April 1949. The status of the committee was later on changed to that of a Class III municipal committee.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 2.59 sq. km. and its population was 8,596 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. It maintains a library and a reading room. The water supply scheme was introduced in 1962, but only canal water is supplied for the purpose of drinking. The drainage system was introduced in 1955 and upto 31 March 1989, 2 Km drains were constructed. The electric supply was introduced in the municipal area in 1956. It also maintains 4.29 km or roads within the municipal limits.
Kot Fatta Municipality
In the beginning, a small town committee was formed at Kot Fatta and in 1956-57, its status was changes to a Class III municipality, which at present is functioning in the town.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town, within the municipal limits, was 0.39 sq. km. and its population was 4,973 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. The drainage system was introduced in the town in 1970-71 and upto 31 March 1989, 14,800 feet drains were constructed. The electric supply was introduced in the municipal area in 1961. It also maintains 2 km of roads within the municipal limits.
Initially, it was constituted as a small town committee and later on it was converted into a Class III municipality. The status of the committee was raised to Class II in 1953, which was further raised to Class I in 1977.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 12.95 sq. km. and its population was 43,289 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. It maintains a library and a reading room. The water supply as well sewerage system were introduced in the town in 1969. The sewerage has been laid in about 75 per cent area of the town. The water supply to the town is made through canal water. A well organized fire-fighting service exists in the town. Besides, it maintains 27 km roads within the municipal limits.
A small town committee was constituted in the town in the beginning. It was converted into a Class III municipal committee in 1956. The status of the municipality was raised to a Class II municipality in 1971.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 2.59 sq. km and its population was 18,853 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangement s for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. It maintains a library and a reading room. The electric supply in the municipal area was introduced in 1956. There are more than 1,956 water connections. The sewerage system was started in the town in 1978-79. The municipality maintains 11 km of roads within the municipal limits.
The municipality was constituted in Kartik 2002 BK (AD 1945) as a small town committee which was later on converted into a Class III municipal committee. The status of the committee was raised to a Class II municipality on 28 May 1970.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits as 2.36 sq. km. And its population was 14,378 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. The municipality has a well organized fire-fighting service. The water supply scheme was introduced in 19643. The canal water is also supplied for drinking purposes in the town. The sewerage system was started in 1981 in the municipal area and about 20,104 sq. ft. area had been covered under the scheme till March 1989. The electric supply was started in the municipal area on 12 January 1959. It also maintains 15 km of roads within the municipal limits.
Rampura Phul Municipality
A Class II municipal committee was constituted in the town on 13 April 1949. According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 2.18 sq. km. and its population was 31,890 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include water supply, street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. The water supply/sewerage system was introduced in the town in 1966. The committee was operating 4 tube-wells during 1988-89. The municipality maintains 25 km of drains in the town. The electric supply was introduced in the municipal area in 1937. The municipality runs a library. Besides, it maintains 17 km of roads within the municipal limits.
The municipality was first constituted as a small town committee in 1955-56. At present, a Class III municipality is functioning in the town.
According to 1981 Census, the area of the town within the municipal limits was 3.88 sq. km. and its population was 2,859 persons.
The civic amenities provided by the municipality include street-lighting, surface drains and arrangements for the cleanliness of the town and the disposal of the refuse. It maintains a library. The pipes for the supply of drinking water have been laid in most of the town. Water supply is being provided. Under the drainage system, it has constructed 5,200 feet drains. The electric supply was introduced in the town in 1960. Besides, it maintains 3,725 feet of roads within the municipal limits.
The department of Town and Country Planning is the government agency for the planning, programming and monitoring of projects and schemes in urban areas. It is also a service agency for all the local/state agencies engaged in the improvement of the urban areas, viz. Town Improvement Trusts, Municipal Committees and Housing and Urban Development Department. The activities of this department include the preparation of master plans for important towns, development plans of controlled areas, preparation of urban development projects, preparation of layout plans and schemes of Improvement Trusts, Municipal Committees and Urban Estates, etc.
The office of the Divisional Town Planner, Bathinda was opened on 4 January 1972, with jurisdiction over the districts of Bathinda and Sangrur. This office advises all the departments of State/Central Government as well as the local bodies in the district on matters relating to sitting various projects and also co-ordinates the activities of various departments in this connection. Besides, it tenders technical advice this connection. Besides, it tenders technical advice on road alignments, location of new grain markets, citing of hospital, colleges, schools, residential colonies, industrial areas, defence projects, etc.
This office has prepared the Master Plans of Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo, Mansa and Rampura Phul towns. These Master plans help the local bodies to control the haphazard development and guide them for a planed development of the towns. The Master Plans of these four towns cover an area of 7,764 hectares under proposed urbanizable area and about 26,253 hectares under planning area. Besides, this office has prepared the layout plans of 13 Development Schemes of Improvement Trust, Bathinda which cover an area of about 451 acres. Out of these schemes, 9 have been executed or are being executed by the Improvement Trust, Bathinda, where all type of modern amenities are being provided.
In addition to the above, this office has also prepared layout plans of 6 Development Schemes of Harchand Singh Longowal Nagar and Development Scheme of 6 acres have been sanctioned by the Government. This office has prepared the layout plans of 50 town planning schemes in various towns of the district, out of which, 26 have already been sanctioned by the Government till March 1990. These schemes cover an area of 4,070 acres, out of which 35 town planning schemes are in Bathinda town covering an area of about 3,134 acres. Out of which, 15 main town planning schemes have been sanctioned covering an area of 1,215 acres. In Goniana Mandi, 4 town planning schemes were sanctioned by 1983 which cover an area of about 538 acres. There are 4 town planning schemes in Rampura Phul, out of which 2 are sanctioned which cover an area of abut 48 acres out of total 102 acres. Besides the above, the layout plans of 2 town planning schemes of Budhlada Municipal Committee have been prepared.
This office has also prepared Development plans of 5 controlled areas around various towns in Bathinda District covering an area of about 6,076 acres. This office has prepared development plans of 8 villages under the ‘Model Village Scheme’ of Panchayati Raj Department under the programme of ‘Housing for Rural Landless Wokers’. Layout plans of 108 sites have been prepared by this office alongwith the standard the layout plans of 15 Focal Points Villages under the Integrated Rural Development Programme of Panchayati Raj Department. Besides, the layout plans of 5 Community Centres and layout plans of 2 Veterinary Hospitals have been prepared by this office as per the demand of Panchayati Raj Department.
In addition to above works, this office has also tendered technical advice to government for siting of number of big projects inside or around the municipal limits of Bathinda, such as site of Government Engineering College, Government Polytechnic, Industrial Focal Point Industrial Estate, Milk Plant, Spinning Mill of Spinning Federation, Punjab Cement Factory and Sulphuric Acid Factory, etc.
An improvement trust is an ad hoc body constituted for the development of a town/city. It generally acquires land for development schemes and allots/auctions plots to the general public including the weaker sections of the society. The major functions of the improvement trust include clearance of slums, provision of water supply, sewerage, street light, widening of existing roads and roundabouts, construction of markets and residential colonies with all basic amenities, beautification of the town/city and provision of open space for parks, schools and orderly expansion of the town.
The members of an improvement trust are appointed from amongst the public men by the State Government, besides a few ex-officio members. The terms of office of a member of an improvement trust is three years.
The main financial sources of the improvement trust are municipal contributions, government grants, income from trust property, nazool property, fees and returns from investments, etc.
There are two improvement trusts in the district, viz. Bathinda Improvement Trust, Bathinda and Mansa Improvement Trust, Mansa. The Mansa Improvement Trust was abolished on 7 April 1981, but it was reconstituted on 23 December 1983. The activities of Bathinda Improvement Trust are detailed below :-
Bathinda Improvement Trust, Bathinda. – The Improvement Trust, Bathinda was constituted on 2 March 1973 under the Punjab Town Improvement Trust Act, 1922. In 1979-80, it had 3 members including the Chairman. In February 1983, the Improvement Trust was appointed as its administrator. The Trust was again constituted, vide Notification No. 579-4SLG-II-83/25399, dated 23 December 1983. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda was appointed Chairman with 8 other trustees. Again, vide Notification No. LG-UII-84/4996, dated 12 February 1984, the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda was appointed Chairman in place of Additional Deputy Commissioner. The schemes prepared by the Trust are mentioned below :
Ahatta Pritam Singh Sidhu. – This scheme covers an area measuring 3 acres and is in the heart of the commercial center of the city. It has 90 plots (75 commercial and 15 residential). Under the scheme, shop-cum-flats, shops and boots have been provided to the people.
Ahatta Purbian Scheme. – The area of this scheme is 3.23 acres. The land (except one bigha) has been acquired. The scheme has been completed with the provision of all public amenities. In the scheme, a park with a fountain has also been provided. After the completion of the scheme, it has been handed over to the Municipal Committee, Bathinda for maintenance.
Amrik Singh Road Scheme. – This scheme covers an area measuring 24.21 acres. The civil amenities such as construction of roads, sewerage, drinking water supply, besides street lighting have been provided. A number of parks have been provided in the area. One fountain has been installed in a big park. After the completion of the scheme, it has been handed over to the Municipal Committee, Bathinda for maintenance.
Kamla Nehru Nagar Scheme. – This scheme covers an area measuring 33.05 acres. It is residential-cum-commercial scheme. The scheme has proved useful for the development of the town.
Besides, the Trust has acquired 1.36 acres of land under development schemes, 25,21 acres of land in front of the Alankar Theatre and 16.44 acres of land in front of the Rose Garden for development. The Trust has installed a statue to perpetuate the memory of late Jamadar Nand Singh in Bibiwala Chowk, and the same has been handed over to the P.W.D. B&R Department for its maintenance.
The Trust has also constructed an open air theatre, cinema houses, restaurants and parks, etc. in the city.
The income and expenditure of the Improvement Trust, Bathinda during 1988-89 were Rs. 1,63,85,000 and Rs. 1,48,05,000 respectively.
With a view to providing bold and imaginative leadership for all round development of the village community, Panchayati Raj was introduced in the State on 2 October 1961. The Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, 1952 and the Punjab Panchayat Samities and Zila Parishads Act, 1961 as amended to date form the basis of the institution of Panchayati Raj in the State. The structure consists of three tiers, viz. a panchayat at the village level, a panchayat samiti at the block level and a zila parishad at the district level. All these institutions are organically linked with each other by means of indirect elections. They are one superior to the other but do not constitute a hierarchy, placing one subordinate to the other. They have clearly defined spheres of activities and have independent and distinct sources of revenue. This enables them to function without losing their initiatives and self-reliance.
Gram Panchayats. – On the formation of PEPSU in 1948, PEPSU Panchayati Raj Act was passed in 1951. Under the Act, niyaya panchats were constituted separately for a group of 5 or 6 villages. On the merger of PEPSU in the Punjab on 1 November 1956, the provisions of the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, 1952 became applicable to the panchayats of this district also. The PEPSU Panchayat Raj Act, 1951 was repealed by the Gram Panchayat Act, 1952, which was amended in 1960. Under the Act, a gram sabha may be constituted for any village or group of contiguous villages with a population of not less than 5001 and a gram panchayat is elected for the gram sabha area and not for each village. The government, of course, has the power to relax the restriction. Every male or female who is entered as a voter on the electoral roll of the State Vidhan Sabha is a member of the gram sabha. The members of the gram sabha elect the members of the gram sabha elect the members of the panchayats from amongst themselves. If no woman is elected as a panch, the woman candidates in that election is co-opted by the panchayat as a panch, and where no such woman candidate is available, two women are co-opted as panches by the competent authority. Similarly, it has been provided that every panchayat shall have one or two members of the Scheduled Castes depending upon the ratio of their population in the village.
The number of panches and the mode of election of sarpanch of a panchayat has been changing from time to time. In 1960, a gram sabha could elect 5 to 9 panches including the sarpanch and a lady panch. In 1971, the number of panches was raised from 5 to 11, but the mode of election of sarpanch was made indirect, i.e. the panches of a panchayat were to elect the sarpanch from amongst themselves. In 1972, election of the sarpanch was again made direct, i.e. the member of a gram sabha were to elect the sarpanch in addition to electing the panches, the number of panches remaining the same. The election of sarpanch was again made indirect in 1978 with no change as to the number of panches. From 1982, the election of sarpanch has again been made direct without altering the total number of panches.
The panchayat may remove a sarpanch by a motion of non-confidence passed by atleast two third of the panches. Members of the panchayat may be removed by the government on specified grounds. Removal entails disqualification for re-election for a period up to five years.
Under the Act, a gram panchayat is to meet at least once a month at a placed within the gram panchayat area. Majority of the panches holding office for the time being form quorum. All decisions of a panchayat are taken by majority and, when the voting is in equality, the sarpanch has an additional or casting vote. At the block level, the Block Development and Panchayat Officer and at the district level, District Development and Panchayat Officer co-ordinate and supervise the working of the panchayats in the block and in the district, respectively.
According to the last elections held in 1983, there were 516 panchayats in the Bathinda District with a total membership of 3,876. It included 877 Harijans and 1,014 lady panches. It is worth mentioning that in these elections out of 516 panchayats, elections in 54 panchayats were held unanimously. Moreover, 7 Harijan and 7 lady sarpanches were also declared elected.
The panchayats have been vested with judicial and executive powers under the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, 1952. Besides, they are an important agency for the development of the villages. They are also expected to provide inexpensive and ready justice. On the criminal side, they have been given powers to try certain minor offences like petty thefts, hurt, affray, and commission of public nuisance. They are under the control of the District Magistrate who can hear appeals against their orders, and transfer cases from one panchayat to another. On the civil and revenue judicial cases within ________________________________________________________________________
1 The Gram Panchayat Act, 1952, has been amended to allow the constitution of a panchayat for a village having population of 100.
specified pecuniary limits, they are under the control of the District Judge and the Collector, respectively.
A healthy feature of the functioning of panchayats is that most of the cases coming up before them are compromised, promoting thereby harmony among the village community.
Besides, the panchayats look to the requirements of their respective areas in regard to agriculture, education, animal husbandry, public health and sanitation including water-supply, works of public utility, games and sports, industries, medical health and relief to the poor. They are expected to arrange 50 per cent of the cost of the local development works sponsored by Development Department in cash, kind or labour with the help of the concerned departments. The panchayats have been responsible for starting a number of single teacher primary schools, construction of new school buildings and repairing and remodeling of old ones, raising of aided libraries, provision of community listening sets, construction and repairing of panchyat ghars, building of dispensaries, planting of trees, arranging playgrounds and children parks, construction of village approach roads, repairing and leveling of public parks, construction, repair and remodeling of wells for drinking water and the maintenance of ponds.
The village common land now vests in the panchayats. They receive a percentage of land revenue collection in the village under their charge and grants from government and sometimes from local bodies. They levy house tax and professions tax and raise voluntary contributions. The fines and penalties they impose are also transferred to their funds. In 1988-89, the total income from all sources of the panchayats in the district was Rs. 3,03,15,222 and their total expenditure on education and libraries, public works, health, agriculture and veterinary services, administration and other miscellaneous items amounted to Rs. 2,81,75,422.
Sources of Revenue
The main sources of income of the panchayats are : grants-in-aid from the government, a percentage of land revenue collection, donations, taxes, duties, cesses and fees, income from the village common land, sale proceeds of dust, dirt and dung, etc. The fines and penalties which the panchayats impose are also transferred to their funds.
The income and expenditure of the panchayats in the Bathinda District, during 1977-78 to 1988-89, is given below :
Year Income Expenditure
1977-78 57,21,732 61,69,502
1978-79 64,73,385 51,25,176
1979-80 96,98,344 72,54,266
1980-81 76,82,519 72,98,108
1981-82 1,52,04,019 1,33,99,253
1982-83 1,25,16,078 1,69,05,013
1983-84 1,60,76,112 1,69,47,919
1984-85 1,44529,153 1,32,54,901
1985-86 2,01,42,356 1,68,11,688
1986-87 2,57,41,529 2,31,31,429
1987-88 26,19,634 23,45,941
1988-89 3,03,15,222 2,81,75,422
(Source : Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab)
During 1988-89, the panchayats in the district constructed 26 new school buildings and repaired 72 including extension in 58 existing ones. They also provided playgrounds, children parks and established some libraries, besides constructing panchayat ghars, hospitals/dispensaries, buildings, etc. During the same year, the panchayat laid 153.3 km drains as well as paved 1,87,836 sq. metres of streets.
Panchayat Samitis. – Panchayat Samitis in the State are constituted under the Punjab Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads Act, 1961, at block level under the Community Development Programme. A panchayat Raj and serves as a bridge between the zila parishad and the village panchayats. There are 9 panchayat samitis in the district, i.e. one in each block. According to the Punjab Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads Act, 1961, each panchayat samiti comprises 16 members elected by the panches and sarpanches from amongst themselves; two members elected by the co-operative societies and one member elected by the co-operative societies and one member elected by the market committees. Besides, every MLA whose constituency falls in part or in full in the block works on the panchayat samiti as an associate member2. Two women interested in social work and four persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, if not elected otherwise, are co-opted as members. The Sub Divisional Officer (Civil) and the Block Development and Panchayat Officer of the block work as ex-officio members without the right to vote. The chairman and the vice-chairman are elected from amongst the elected members of the samiti and their term of office is five years.
The panchayat samitis play an important role in the development of the villages by providing and making arrangements for the requirements of the area within their jurisdiction in respect of agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries, health and rural sanitation, communications, social education, co-operation, etc. Besides, they also endeavour towards the development of cottage and small-scale industries and other local development activities. A panchayat samiti is also the agent of the government for the formulation and execution of rural development programmes.
The main sources of income of the panchayat samitis are; local rate, fees derived from schools and markets, fees from fairs and shows, rents and profits accruing from properties vested in them and such money and grants as the government may place at their disposal. Under Section 65 of the Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads act, 1961, subject to the general direction and control of the government, a panchayat samiti may, with the prior permission of the zila parishad concerned, impose any tax which the legislature of the State has power to impose under the Constitution of India. Provided that no tax under this section shall be imposed in respect of any property subject to local rate. Besides, under Section 66 of the Act, the government may empower the panchayat samiti to impose any tax without such permission.
The panchayat samits of the Bathinda District were superseded, vide Punjab Government Notification No. S.O. 47/P.A.3/61/S. 105/78, dated 10 October 1978 and the concerned Sub Divisional Officers (Civil) were appointed their administrators. These administrators have been empowered to exercise and perform all the powers and functions of panchayat samitis till these are reconstituted.
Zila Parishads. – Prior to the formation of the zila parishad in the State, their functions were performed by district boards. The district boards used to attend to the development activities of the rural areas just as the municipality looked after the urban areas.
As Bathinda District was prior to the Independence of the country, a part of princely states, the functions of the district boards were performed by the respective departments of the States. The Zila Parishad, Bathinda was constituted on 1 August 1962 under the Punjab Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads Act, 1961.
2 Prior to the abolition of the Punjab Vidhan Parishad in 1969, the membership of a panchayat samiti also included such members of the Punjab Vidhan Parishad, as the Government might by order specify
A zila parishad comprises Chairman of every panchayat samiti; all MPs and MLAs, representing the district or any part thereof, and the Deputy Commissioner of the district. Two women and five members belonging to the Scheduled Castes, if not elected otherwise, are co-opted as members. The MPs, MLAs and the Deputy Commissioner do not have the MLAs and the Deputy Commissioner do not have the right to vote. A zila parishad has a chairman and a vice-chairman elected by the primary members, Chairman of the panchayat samitis and co-opted members, from amongst themselves. The Secretary of the zila parishad is appointed by the Government.
The zila parishad consolidates and co-ordinates the plans prepared by the panchayat samitis and advises the Government in regard to panchayats and panchayat samitis and keeps a watch over the agricultural production programmes and constuction works. Previously, the zila parishads used to maintain certain roads which have now been transferred to the State Public Works Department.
The income of the zila parishad accrues from the Central or the State Government funds allotted to it, grant from all-India bodies and institutions for the development of cottage and small-scale industries, share of the lad cess, State tax or free, income from endowments and such contributions as the zila parishad may levy on the panchayat samitis.
Year Income Expenditure
1977-78 31,28,281 22,94,203
1978-79 29,95,808 36,94,957
1979-80 37,52,362 39,68,478
1980-81 17,53,848 13,14,808
1981-82 5,17,274 14,97,681
1982-83 12,172,164 13,63,403
1983-84 7,42,244 13,74,053
1984-85 23,02,454 20,71,658
1985-86 23,20,109 17,09,684
1986-87 27,86,016 32,31,327
1987-88 35,41,016 32,34,112
1988-89 24,76,355 30,72,170
(Source : Secretary, Zila Parishad, Bathinda)
The Zila Parishad, Bathinda was superseded by the State Government on 12 October 1978 and the Deputy Commissioner was appointed its administrator to exercise and perform till the same is reconstituted.