(a) Evolution of Local Self-Government in the District—It is a common belief that India had from time immemorial here own self-governing institutions. The village communities of the remotes past, the sabha and samiti of the ancient times and the village panchayats of the medieval ages, all flourished as autonomous units and discharged many functions of the modern local bodies. The history of the modern self-governing institutions in India dates back to 1687 when the East India Company by a Charter established the Municipal Corporation at Madras. Similar types of corporations were set up in Calcutta and Bombay in 1720 and 1993 respectively. The experiment in the field of self-governing institutions was no longer confined to these provinces and attempts were made to set up local bodies outside the presidency towns. In Bengal, an Act, providing for the formation of a municipal committee on the application of two-third of the population of a town was passed in 1842. Similar measures were enacted in 1850 and 1856 in many other provinces of the country to popularise the establishment of local bodies.
The municipal administration in the Punjab, in the present form, also owes its origin to the British. The British constituted municipalities, keeping many factors in view-the main factor at least in the towns of the Punjab was on military grounds. The British Army, while crossing to the towns of the Punjab and entering them on expeditions or otherwise, faced considerable difficulties in getting clean drinking-water. Consequently, they caught infectious diseases which greatly affected their health and efficiency.
The Royal Army Sanitary Commission, in its Repot in 1863, invited pointed attention to the unhealthy conditions of the towns. The Punjab Government took prompt action in pursuance of these recommendations. And, under the Punjab Municipal Act XV of 1867, the voluntary provision for the constitution of municipalities was dropped and the Provincial Government assumed the necessary powers to set up committees to look after the water-supply, lighting, sanitation, etc. of the towns in the State. The said Act further permitted the election of the Provincial Government. These measures proved to be useful in improving the sanitary conditions in the towns.
The real progress in the field of local self-government however, began under the Viceroyalty of Lord Mayo (1869-72). The Governor-General was eager to introduce reforms and also to relieve the imperial finances. To achieve that objective, he planned to entrust the local objects to local revenues and local interests. Lord Mayo’s Resolution of provincial finances, which encouraged the general application of the principle of election to the local bodies was another step in the development of local self-government in India.
The advent of Lord Ripon (1880-84) marked a new chapter in the history of local self-government in India. before him, the condition of the local bodies was far from satisfactory. There was hardly any trace of election, much less of independent authority, and no specific powers were granted to local authorities. Lord Ripon, in 1882 issued a comprehensive resolution, recommending the removal of all the existing defects in the local bodies and also making them the instruments of political education. Thus the local self-government as a conscious movement, began with Lord Ripon who is described the “Father of Local Self-Government in India”.
The progress of the local self-government was, however, impeded by two factors-first, the officials did not display he generosity that was expected of them and, second, the municipal elections failed to attract men of ability and reputation. Moreover, the local bodies were saddled with a responsibility, but no adequate funds were placed at their disposal.
The review of the local self-governement done by the Royal Commission of the Decentralization in 1907-09 did not embody any progressive municipal policy. The introduction of communal electorates under the Government of India Act, 1909, proved to be a great impediment to the growth and development of municipal administration. The Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, did not introduce any substantial changes into the municipal administration. In 1912, at the direction of the Government of India, the appointment of a health officer was made compulsory in large towns. During the period 1909-19, paternalism was the keynote of municipal administration. The municipal committees suffered from financial stringency, rigid official control and lack of trained personnel. The outbreak of the World War-I (1914-18) adversely affected the working of the municipalities. By and large, the local self-government in the districts continued to be one of the functions of the district officers.
Under the scheme of dyarchy, 1919-37, the local self-government became a transferred subject and was expected to make a headway at the hands of the Indian Ministers who were entrusted with its administration in various provinces. Under this scheme, the official control was gradually relaxed and the local bodies were made completely elected organizations. The new policy accepted the principle that political education of the public must take precedence over departmental efficiency. The Government of India Act, 1919., prescribed a new scheme of taxes, which could levied by or for the local bodies. This measure not only enlarged the sphere of taxation, but also enabled the local bodies to feel a sense of independence.
Under the Punjab Small Towns Act of 1922, provision was made for the setting up of a comparatively simple machinery for the municipal administration of small towns, each with a population of less than 10,000. Under the new scheme, the town committees, consisting of not less than 5 members, three-fourths of whom were to be elected, were proposed for all such towns. The Punjab Municipal (Executive Officer), Act 1931, invested the provincial Government with powers to appoint executive officers to administer the municipalities. After the passage of the Government of India Act, 1935, which gave full autonomy to the provinces, efforts were made to further improve the structure and working of the local bodies and in many provinces, The nominated element in the local bodies was altogether done away with.
After Independence, the concept of local self-government was further changed. The municipalities were called upon to shoulder greater responsibility with respect to the municipal administration and giving the towns and cities a modern outlook. The Indian Constitution embodies provision for the progress of local self-government in the country.
The Punjab Government appointed a Local Self-Government (Urban) Enquiry Committee in 1954 to suggest means for fostering local initiative and enterprise for enlarging the scope of financial autonomy, subject to irreducible control, and for enlisting the co-operation of the people one voluntary basis . The Committee, in its report in 1957, recommended the enlargement of autonomy of the municipal bodies to the maximum extent, compatible with the imperative needs of continuity, efficiency, and integrity in municipal administration.
(b) Organization and Structure
Functions and Duties of Municipal Committee
Local government is the provision of services to a local community through a representative assembly. Municipal services affect the life of the citizen from the womb to the tomb. Under the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, the municipal committees are required to make a reasonable provision within their financial limits for street lighting, cleaning of public streets, management of slaughter-houses; constructing of latrines, urinals, bathing and washing-places, installing of sewerage and the providing of public facilities for drinking-water; the removal and disposal of refuse; construction and maintenance of roads and bridges within the municipal area; control of dispensaries, maternity centre and child welfare clinics; the registration of births and deaths; control and prevention of epidemics and infectious diseases; regulation of dangerous or offensive trades or practices; maintenance and regulation of the burial and burning places for the disposal of the dead; disposal of unclaimed dead bodies; the disposal of rabid and stray dogs and other animals; public vaccination; the removal of encroachments on public streets, public places. etc.
Apart from the administrative powers mentioned above, the municipalities have an important legislative function, viz the power to make bye-laws.
Before 1957, elementary education was one of the obligatory functions of municipal committees in the State. But this system did not work satisfactory. Charges of apathy, incompetency, ill-treatment of teachers, religious and political bias, nepotism and other forms of graft were levelled against the municipalities. By and large, the municipal committees has not developed an adequate sense of civic responsibility in the field of education. These factors led the Punjab Government to divest municipal committees of their responsibilities in this field, and all the municipal schools primary, middle and high in the State, were provicialized in October, 1957. The municipalities have since been required to pay fixed contribution to Government in lieu of this obligation.
The Municipal Committee, Firozpur, was constituted in 1885, under section 4 of the Punjab Municipal Act of 1884, -- vide Punjab Government Notification No. 1652-S, dated 12 October 1885. The territorial limits of the Municipality, as declared in the notification, remain unchanged till today. The octroi limits of the Municipality were declared,--vide Punjab Government Notification No. 22, dated 20 February 1909. These are, however, not conterminous with the territorial limits. The bye-laws were introduced in 1918, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 6567, dated 29 October 1919.
The municipality at present consists of 23 elected members. the term of office of a member is 5 years.
The various activities of the Municipality are given below :
Drainage and Sewerage :- The drainage system was introduced into the City in 1916. The sewerage scheme is in hand and up to 31 March 1970, Rs. 66,000 was spent on it. For the flushing of the main drains in the city, there are 5 hydrants and 2 flushing stations which have been connected with the pipelines of the water-supply system. For the drainage of the city, there are two outfalls, viz. Amritsari Gate Outfall (situated outside the Amritsari Gate) and Aktari Outfall (situated outside the Zira Gate). At each outfall, there are 2 pucca sullage tanks. The sullage is lifted from these tanks with mechanically driven pumps and utilized for irrigating the attached sewage farms. There is also a jhalar in Basti Mamnewali, but no municipal sewage sewage farm is attached to it.
Street Lighting :- The Firozpur city was electrified in 1934 by the P.W.D. Hydro-electric Department. The supply of energy for street lighting was secured by the municipality during the same year. Before that, kerosene lamps and gas lamps were used for the purpose. On 31 March 1980, 989 electric points were installed for lighting the streets within the area of the Municipality.
Public Health :- The municipality has employed 198 sweepers. it has four tractors, four trolleys and one bullock-cart for disposing of refuse. Tile 30 June 1954, the city refuse was removed in trucks to compost trenches and after proper composting, the manure was sold to the farmers. The municipality had to spend Rs. 12,000 annually on the removal of refuse and its composting, but, in return, it never received more than Rs. 6,000 per annum as the price of the composted manure. From 1 July 1954, the city refuse is removed on contract, which system is profitable to the Municipality as it brings income without any expenditure.
Water-Supply :- Water-supply scheme was introduced into Firozpur in 1959-60. For this purpose, six tube-wells were installed. Besides, there were approximately 416 wells in the city.
Roads :- The Municipality maintains 38 kilometres of roads.
Libraries :- The Municipality maintains the Mahesh Chand Memorial Municipal Library and a reading-room. Constructed in 1934, the Library is located in the heart of the city and is visited by a large number of people. A whole-time librarian is in charge of the Library.
Adjacent to the Main Library, there is a Children’s Library.
Municipal Parks :- The municipality maintains three parks, the first in Town Hall, the second is outside the Makhu Gate and the third is outside the Delhi Gate. The first two are meant for the general public and the third for the children.
The Municipality maintains two health centres. The taxes levied by the Municipality comprise the octroi tax, toll tax, show tax on land and buildings, and the building-applications tax. The income and expenditure of the municipality are given hereunder :
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 2,133 1,632
1974-75 2,915 2,550
1975-76 2,338 3,330
1976-77 3,659 3,569
1977-78 2,920 3,107
1978-79 3,294 3,306
(Source : Statistical Abstracts of Punjab, 1974 to 1980)
Cantonment Board, Firozpur
The Cantonment Board, Firozpur, was constituted in 1891 --vide Punjab Government Notification No. 45, date 15 January 1891. The bye-laws were introduced in 1931.
Elections to the Cantonment Board are held under the provisions of the Cantonments Act, 1924, and the Cantonment Electoral Rules, 1955 (amended up-to-date). The stay and the duration of the Cantonment Executive Officer depend upon the orders of the Government of India, Ministry of Defence (Military Lands and Cantonments Directorate).
The drainage system was introduced in 1928. Some of the drains have been constructed by the Board. The Board has employed 303 scavengers and 6 bullock-carts for the disposal of refuse. The collection and the removal of night-soil and rubbish in the military area are done by means of night of night-soil receptacles and motor-lorries-trolleys. The nigh-soil, is disposed of in shallow trenches in private fields at the expense of the Board and receipt of a lump-sum contract money. In the civil area, the collection of night-soil and rubbish from the private houses is done by private sweepers. It is deposited in masonry rubbish bins provided at selected places and removed therefrom by motor-lorries or by tractors with trailers for the final disposal by trenching and is sold in the form of the manure after specified intervals.
The water-supply system was introduced into some areas of the Sadar Bazaar in 1963. Later on, it was extended to almost all areas of the Bazaar and portion of the Bunglow area on the Church Road and the Jhoke Road. The Board has installed two tube-wells.
Electricity is supplied by the Punjab State Electricity Board and the Military Engineering Service. The Cantonment Board has installed one flood searchlight (in the Gandhi Garden), 193 fluorescent tube lights, 23 mercury-vapour lamps and 393 ordinary bulbs. The Board also maintains 29.76 km. of metalled roads.
The Board maintains a 30 bed hospital, known as the Cantonment General Hospital, Firozpur Cantonment. There is a separate isolation ward in the Hospital.
The Board maintains a library-cum-reading-room and a garden known as the Gandhi Gardens.
Year Income Expenditure
1972-73 20,10,998 20,17,447
1973-74 20,16,219 19,74,419
1974-75 20,26,072 23,32,119
1975-76 33,99,040 30,40,764
1976-77 38,65,976 36,67,980
1977-78 33,77,635 32,47,212
1978-79 33,17,916 35,35,757
(Source : Cantonment Board, Firozpur)
Tankanwali was constituted a Notified Area Committee under the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 295-L.S.G.37/8508, dated 2 March 1937. Later, on it was converted into a Small Town Committee vide Punjab Government Notification No. 6184-LB/3938, dated 11 August 1952. The Town Committee was converted into a Municipal Committee, Class III, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 7345-LB(CH)-54/2509, dated 25 January 1955.
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 111 212
1974-75 90 104
1975-76 322 163
1976-77 384 354
1977-78 169 354
(Statistical Abstracts of Punjab, 1974 to 1979)
Guru Har Sahai was originally declared as a Notified Area Committee, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 91, dated 14 February 1908. In 1929, it was converted into a Small Town Committee, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 35105, dated 5 November 1929. The Town committee was converted into a Municipal Committee, Class III with effect from 1 April 1955. The limits of the Municipality were extended two times, -- vide Punjab Government Notification Nos. 185-CC-56/4900, dated 30 January 1956 and 13744-C056-980, dated 24 January 1957. The bye-laws were introduced in 1927.
The Municipal Committee has 14 members, whose term of office is 5 year.
The water-supply system was introduced into the town in 1966. One tube-well has been installed. The Municipality has spent Rs. 2,40,000 on the scheme.
For the cleanliness of the town, the Municipality has exployed 22 full-time sweepers and 7 part-time sweepers. For the removal of refuse and night-soil, one tractor and two bullock-carts are used. The nigh-soil is deposited in compost pits and later on sold through auction.
The drainage system was introduced in 1924. The Town was electrified in 1956. For lightning within the Municipal area, 40 tubes and 71 electric bulbs have been installed. The Municipality runs a library and has a children’s park. It maintains 4 km of pucca road within it area.
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 298 330
1974-75 464 363
1975-76 530 566
1976-77 547 758
1977-78 711 744
1978-79 867 884
The Municipal Committee, Talwandi Bahi, was constituted in 1956, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 11084-C56/85287 dated 23/27/ November 1956. The limits of the Municipality were fixed by the same notification. The bye-laws were introduced in 1960.
The Municipal Committee has 15 members, who are elected for 5 years.
The Town was electrified in 1954. Ninety-one electric point have been installed for street lighting.
The Municipality has employed 19 scavengers for cleaning the Town. The drainage system was introduced in 1961. The Municipality also maintains a tractor, a trolley and ten regries (hand-carts) for the disposal of refuse.
The Municipality runs a library, a reading-room and a park. it also maintains 3.75 kilometres of roads.
The taxes levied by the Municipality are octroi, toll tax, cycle tax, etc. Its income and expenditure are given below :
1973-74 527 583
1974-75 365 298
1975-76 446 469
1976-77 584 561
1977-78 552 613
1978-79 301 253
The Municipality Committee, Zira, was constituted in 1876, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 457, dated 7 April 1876. Originally, there were 6 members of the Committee---2 ex-officio and 4 elected. Some tome later, the constitution was changed to five elected members and one nominated member. In 1952, the nominated element was eliminated and the strength of the Committee was fixed at 8 elected members. The Municipality at present consists of 16 elected members. The terms of office is 5 years.
The limits of the Municipality were fixed, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 81, dated 14 February 1902. The municipality bye-laws were introduced, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 2121, dated 31 March 1927.
The drainage system was introduced into the Zira Town in 1912. Except some portions, pucca drains have been provided in all the streets. The Municipality employs 16 scavengers for cleaning the Town. Two bullock-cart are used for the disposal of refuse.
So far, the water-supply system has not been introduced into the Town. The Municipality has, however, installed three tube-wells.
The Municipality has installed 156 electric points for street lighting. The length of the metalled roads maintained by it is 4.72 km. The Municipality also maintains tow parks for children.
The taxes levied by the Municipality include : octroi, house tax, total tax, etc. Its income and expenditure are given below :
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 246 212
1974-75 396 412
1975-76 479 683
1976-77 742 748
1977-78 754 641
1978-79 1,174 1,076
(Statistical Abstracts of Punjab, 1974 to 1980)
Dharmkot was formed a municipal committee under the Punjab Municipal Act, 1873, which repeated Act SV of 1867 hitherto administering the town. It continued as such up to 1911. The Committee comprises 13 elected members.
Under the Punjab Municipality Act, 1911 Town was converted into a Notified Area Committee. In 1925, it was formed a Small Town committee vide Punjab Government Notification No. 20261, dated 14 September 1925, and continued as such up to 31 March 1955. During that period, the Committee was composed of 9 members, including 2 appointed or nominated members, vide Punjab Government Notification 20262, dated 14 September 1925. The appointment of 2 members were elected.
The Punjab Municipal (Amendment) Act, 1954, repealed the Punjab Small town Act, 1922, and provided a uniform pattern for all types of urban local bodies in the State. Thereby, the municipal committees, class II, replaced the small-town committee. Accordingly, Dharmkot was raised to Municipal Committee, Class III, with effect from 1 April 1955, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 73454-LB(CM)-54/2509, dated 25 January 1955. The by-laws were introduced in 1964.
The Municipality employs 18 scavengers for the cleanliness of the Town. Bullock-carts are used for removing rubbish and night-soil which are deposited in compost pits and the compost is sold through auction.
The water-supply system was introduced into the Town in 1957. The Town was electrified in 1960. For street lighting, 152 electric points have been installed. The Municipality also runs a reading room.
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 135 183
1974-75 94 107
1975-76 240 236
1976-77 348 204
1977-78 190 299
1978-79 662 634
The Municipal Committee, Fazilka, was constituted in 1885 vide Punjab Government Notification No. 486, date 10 December 1885. Its limits were fixed vide Government Notification No. 415, date 3 July 1916, and these were revised vide Punjab Government Notification No. 421-C-38/6308, dated 31 February 1938. The municipal bye-laws were introduced into the Town vide Notification No. 541, dated 1 November 1905.
There are 21 members of the Committee and their duration of office is five years.
Before the supply of electricity was taken over by the Punjab State Electricity Board in 1955, it was supplied by a private firm, Harbhagwan Nanda and Co., which had its own power-house. For street lighting within the municipal area, 340 tubes and 455 bulbs have been installed.
The water-supply system was introduced in 1965. Two tube-wells with one reservoir, wee installed by the Municipality. The sewerage scheme is also under execution.
For cleanliness of the town, the Municipality has employed 135 scavengers. It has two tractors, ten trolleys and some carts for the disposal of refuse. The night-soil is deposited in compost pits and the compost later on is sold through public auction.
The Municipality maintains a health centre, a library-cum-reading and a park. It also maintains 19 Kms of metalled roads.
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 1,406 1,337
1974-75 1,662 1,490
1975-76 1,860 2,023
1976-77 2,685 2,984
1977-78 2,730 2,626
1978-79 2,218 2,258
(Statistical Abstracts of Punjab, 1974 to 1980)
Abhor was constituted as a Notified Area Committee—vide Punjab Government Notification Nos. 85, 86 and 87 dated 14 February 1908. It was converted into a Municipal Committee, Class-II, --vide Punjab Government Notification No. 31,438, dated 12 December, 1922. The limits of the Municipality were extended,--- vide Punjab Government Notification No. MCII (XIII) 12-59/5341, dated 6 February, 1961 and the adjoining basis were included in the Municipal limits. It was raised to a Municipal Committee, Class I, in November, 1968.
The bye-laws were promulgated in 1927.
In the beginning, the Municipality had 8 members, of whom 6 were elected and 2 were nominated. Later on, their number was raised to 12. The number of the members was further raised to 17 (including 3 Scheduled Caste, elected from double-members constituencies), all of whom are elected. Now, the Municipality has 24 members and their membership in five years.
The Abohar Waterworks was constructed in 1928 at a cost of Rs. 3,25,000. With the increase in the population of the Town, arrangements for the supply of water are also being extended.
The drainage system was introduced into the Town in 1928. The sullage water is collected in a tank, from which it is pumped out and used for irrigation.
The Municipality has employed 185 scavengers of the cleanliness of the Town. For the removal of refuse and nigh-soil, 2 tractors and 8 trolleys are used. The night-soil is deposited in compost pits and the compost is sold later on to the public by auction. A chief sanitary inspector, a sanitary inspector and 6 jamadars have been engaged to look after the sanitation of the town.
Abohar was electrified in 1953-54. The whole Town has 1,530 lights. Out of them, 1,237 are filament tubes and 293 are bulbs on main roads and chowks (roundabouts).
The municipality maintains 91.30 km of roads. It runs a library and a reading room, both located in the Town Hall.
The Municipality maintains 3 Ayurvedic dispensaries. It also maintains seven parks for children, etc.
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 3,183 3,448
1974-75 3,586 3,246
1975-76 4,161 4,308
1976-77 5,058 4,575
1977-78 4,968 4,575
1978-79 5,719 5,846
(Statistical Abstracts of Punjab, 1974 to 1980)
Jalalabad was once the seat of the Nawab of Mamdot. It was constituted a Notified Area Committee in 1915, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 467 dated 24 July 1915. The Notified Area Committee continued to function up to 1936, when it was abolished, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 106-LSG-36/2229, dated 22 January 1936. It remained defunct from 23 January 1936 to 21 1937, and was reconstituted in 1938 vide Punjab Government Notification No. 506-LG-38/10917, dated 23 March 1938. It was declared a Small Town Committee, Punjab Government Notification No. 1437-LB-51/58, dated 4 January 1952. The Small Town Committee was converted into the Municipal Committee, Class III, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 7345-LB(CH)-54/2509, dated 25 January 1955. The bye-laws were promulgated in 1960. The limits of the Municipality were extended vide Punjab Government Notification No. 21(35)-3CI-69/355, dated 7 November 1969. It was upgraded to the Class II Municipality in 1972.
In 1952, the number of elected members was fixed at 8, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 407, dated 21 January 1952. Their number has since been increased to 17. All of them are elected for five years.
The Municipality has employed 39 scavengers for cleanliness of the Town. It has a tractor with four trolleys for the disposal of refuse. The night-soil of the town is carried to the compost depot.
Before the partition of 1947, there existed a small waterworks in the Town. It was destroyed during the disturbances of 1947. It was again started by the Municipality in 1953. The drainage system was introduced into the Town in 1936.
Before the partition, the Knob of Mamdot had an electric generator for his own use. The supply of electricity to the Town was started by the Punjab State Electricity Board in 1958. The Municipality has installed 103 tubes and 79 bulbs for lighting the streets.
The Municipality maintains a park, a library and a reading-room and a maternity and welfare center. It also maintains 7 km of metalled roads.
The main taxes levied by the Municipality are octroi, hose tax, cycle tax, etc. Its income and expenditure are given below :
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 744 1,047
1974-75 621 869
1975-76 692 753
1976-77 924 946
1977-78 947 994
1978-79 1,046 1,037
(Statistical Abstracts of Punjab, 1974 to 1980)
© Panchayati Raj
Gram Panchayats and their historical background :- In India, the system of village panchayats is very old. In ancient times, the village formed the basic unit of social and economic life. The social contracts were more intimate, personal and lasting. Under the Muslim rulers, the panchayats lost their administrative and other functions and their scope was reduced to only social affairs.
The Panchayat System was partly revived under the Sikh. The panchs (i.e. the members of the gram panchayat) were required to help the authorities to collect taxes, to represent the village before the rulers, and to bring the criminals to the notice of the authorities.
Under the British rule, the village organization as a self-sufficient unit,l which was the characteristic feature of the old Indian economy, disappeared. The joint-family system became weak to a great extent under the rising spirit of individualism, and the village community lost much of its internal cohesion and unity. the panchayats lost their power and prestige, and slowly became defunct and obsolete.
for the time being, there was a vacuum. But the spread of Western education created political consciousness among the urban people. There was a desire on their part to be associated with the government. Some sort of local self-government was introduced by the creation of local boards and municipalities. These bodies naturally followed the British pattern, based on their concepts of democracy. After some time, this experiment of self-government was extended to the rural areas in the form of village panchayats. The panchayat, in this context, was supposed to carry out municipal functions only. Even the panchayat legislation drew inspiration from the urban municipal legislation already enacted. It did not deal with the village life in its totality. It did not represent the wishes of he people and, as such, lacked inherent strength. Moreover, the people in this new set-up depended too much on the government for self-help and self-reliance, which alone could make the panchayat effective. These essentials were sadly missing. The people looked to the officials for patronage instead of coming forward and joining hands with one another to tackle their town problems.
Another cause of the failure was that the local self-government units-panchayats, local boards and district boards were not linked up with one another as an organic whole. There was no guidance or supervision from the higher bodies. Each one looked after its own field, quite unconcerned with the activities of others. However, the British Government did not take long to realize that the old panchayats must be resuscitated in some form or another, if there was to be revival of communal life in the rural areas. Accordingly, the work of reviving the panchayats through legislation was taken up in all the provinces in India , The earliest legislation in the Punjab was the Punjab Panchayat Act, 1912, which was followed by the Act of 1921. These enactments aimed at restoring old authority to the panchayats, wherever it existed, and reviving it in other villages. The panchayats once again, after many vicissitudes, became the lowest unit of administration in the State.
The panchayat, constituted under the above Act, were mainly judicial bodies, with hardly any emphasis on development work. Besides, there was no compulsion to establish a gram panchayat in a village. The two main reasons for the failure of these early attempts were: (1) the absence of a specialized agency to encorage,l organize, guide and revitalize these panchayats along with the village comminute generally; and (ii) the fact that these institutions were placed directly under the control of district magistrates and collectors. The Punjab Panchayat Act of 1939 removed many of these difficulties by giving more powers, establishing more panchayats and by setting up a separate Panchayat Department to look after the panchayats. The policy proved quite successful and was followed up in subsequent years till 1947.
In this way, the origin of the institution of local self-government in the modern sense in or country can be taken to be as the efforts made by the British in this direction, although the local bodies which they introduced were hardly representative or self-governing. The powers given to them were so meager and their financial resources were so limited that they could hardly provide any real scope for training in the art of self-government.
The necessity of establishing village panchayats throughout the country was fully recognized after Independence. Mahatma Gandhi had all along dreamt of “Gram Swaraj” or ‘village republics’. Article 40 of the Constitution of India lays down that the State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and invest them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government. In pursuance of this policy, the Punjab Gram Panchayat Acts of 1952 and 1953 were passed. These enactments sought to establish ‘Gram Swaraj’. One main object sought to be achieved through this legislation was to restore to the panchayats their pristine influence in the villages, while helping to recreate as far as possible, the old bond of a corporate life, each member helping and co-operating with the rest of village community in the interest of common welfare. Under these Acts, the number of panchayats increased appreciably in the District.
The Punjab Gram Panchayats Act, 1952 provides for the establishment of panchayats in ever village with a population of not less than 500 and a joint panchayat for a village withless population, by grouping it with any contiguous village or villages, so that the population of all the villages , so grouped, is not less than 500. All persons entered as voters on the electoral rolls for the Vidhan Sabha, are members of the Gram Sabha. A gram sabha elects from among its members a chairman, called sarpanch, and an executive committee, called the gram panchayats, consisting of 5 to 9 members (including the sarpanch), called panchs. Provision has also been made for the representation of women and of the members of Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in the gram panchayats. The term of office of the panchs and the sarpanch is five years.
The Civil and administrative and judicial functions of the panchayats are laid down in the Punjab Gram panchayat Act, 1952 (as amended up to 31 August 1960), which considerably enhanced their powers. Under this Act, there are two kinds of panchayats—panchayats with ordinary powers and panchayats with enhanced powers or adalti panchayats. The panchayats, with ordinary powers, have to perform two kinds of functions administrative and Civil, and judicial. The administrative and civil functions of these panchayats have been enumerated under sections 19 to 37 of the Act, which cover all kinds of development work within the jurisdiction of the panchayat area.
The panchayats, with enhanced powers or adalti panchayats, have been empowered to hear criminal and judicial cases and can try judicial and civil an revenue cases up to Rs. 500 and Rs. 200 respectively. The details regarding the cases dealt with by the panchayats are given in Chapter Law and Order and Justice.
The main sources of income of the panchayats are : revenue from the common (shamlat) land, land-revenue grant, grant from block budget, grants from local departments and voluntary contribution. The panchayats are also empowered to impose a variety of taxes, e.g. house tax, professional tax, and raise fees.
In income of the panchayats in the District during 1973-74 to 1979-80 is given below :
Source 1973-74 1974-75 1975-76 1976-77 1977-78 1978-79 1979-80
House Tax 83,086 6,6,,402 12,88,981 4,79,420 4,81,518 4,64,152 4,99,833
State Grants 2,56,154 3,50,736 2,88,116 5,26,592 3,34,702 7,81,341 31,73,544
Voluntary 13,483 3,319 3,978 210 8,918 3,237 35,373
(Source : Director Rural Development and Panchayat, Punjab Chandigarh.)
Panchayat Samities :- A panchayat samiti is the second tier of the Pancreatic Raj System of rural local self-government. Though the need for a second tier of local self-governement to act as a bridge between the district boards and the village panchayats was recognized fairly long ago and efforts were also made in this direction even in the pre-Independence days, yet the credit for creating this unit goes to the Community Development Programme. A group of 100 villages, with a population of about 66,000, was selected as a new unit of administration, called the block. The entire District of Firozpur is divided into 9 blocks. According to the Punjab Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishad Act, 1961, each panchayat samiti should consist of the following members: Sixteen members from amongst panchs and sarpanchs of gram panchayats in the block, from among themselves; 2 members from the market committees in the block.
Four Scheduled Castes/Schedules Tribes and two women members are to be co-opted if they do not come in the open election. However, this number is reduced to the extent that the total number of elected and co-opted members does not exceed 4 for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and two for women panchs.
In addition to the above, the Sub divisional Officer (Civil), having jurisdiction over the block and the Block Development and Panchayat Officer are the ex-office members of a panchayat samiti. they shall, however, not be entitled to vote at any meeting of the samiti. Similarly, every member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly , representing the constituency, of which the block forms a part, shall not be entitled to vote, but have the right to speak and otherwise take part in the proceedings of any meeting of the panchayat samiti or its committee.
Every Panchayat Samiti elects its chairman and vice-chairman from among the primary and co-opted members. The term of office of the primary and co-opted members and also of the chairman and the vice-chairman is the same as that of the members of the zila parishad, i.e. five years.
The Block Development and Panchayat Officer is the ex-officiso executive officer of a panchayat samiti and is under its administrative control. The executive power of the panchayat samiti is however, divided between the chairman and the executive officer, the residuary executive powers vesting in the former. The samiti exercises its administrative control over all categories of the staff working under it. The samiti has also dealings with the Deputy Commissioner of the District and the Commissioner of the Division who exercises certain statutory powers of the supervision and control over it.
A panchayat samiti plays an important role in the development of villages. The term ‘development work; covers agriculcutre, animal husbandry, co-operation, minor irrigation works, villages industries, social education, local communications, sanitation, health and medical relief local amenities and similar subjects. The samiti has some optional functions, which it may, with the approval or at the suggestion of the zila parishad, provide for any matter other than those set out above. Also, the samiti has some agency functions, i.e. functions entrusted to panchayat samitis by the Government.
A panchayat samiti has the power to frame-be-laws on various subjects, power to acquire land or other immovable property; power to contribute to joint works and undertaking, power under the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, which the Government may authorize a samiti to exercise; the power to delegate to the chairman, the vice-chairman, the executive officer or any other government servant, all or any power conferred upon a samiti except the power to make by-laws, and the supervisory powers with respect to the panchayats.
The sources of income of a samiti consist of a composite samiti fund comprising (i) apportionment made by the Government out of the balance of the district fund at the credit of the zila parishad concerned; (ii) all proceeds of local rate allotted to the panchayat samiti under section 63 of the Punjab Samitis and Zila Parishads Act, 1961; (iii) the proceeds of all taxes, cesses and fees imposed by a panchayat samiti and the income earising from all sources of income placed at its disposal under Section 62 of the Act; (iv) the surcharge on the duty on the transfer of immovable property; (v) the proceeds from periodical fairs, markets and bazzaars; (vi) voluntary public contributions; and (vii) grants made by the government.
Zila Parishad :- The District Board, Firozpur, was constituted in 1884 under the Punjab District Boards Act, 1883, -- vide Punjab Government Notification NO. 1704, dated 3 July 1884. it comprised 42 members of whom 28 were elected by the five local boards and the remaining 14were appointed. The five local boards were established simultaneously in each of the five tehsils towns. There were 85 members of all these five local boards. Out of the 85 members, 58 were elected and the remaining 27 were appointed. Those local boards, however, did not prove useful and were abolished in 1906, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 246, dated 13 December 1906. On the abolition of the local boards, the tehsils of the District were divided according to zails into a corresponding number of electoral circles, but the number of elected and appointed members remained the same. Later on, the number of the members of the District Board was fixed at 50, of whom 37 were elected and 13 were nominated. Of the nominated members, 6 were paid officers of the Punjab Government. The elections to the Board were held in 1936.
The District Board, Firozpur, continued to function till 13 June 1954, when it was suppressed and reconstituted on the promulgation of the Governor’s Ordidnance of 1954, replaced by the Punjab District Boards (Temporary Constitution) Act, 1954, whereby all the members of the Boards, except the official members, vacated their seats and the administration of the Board passed on to the Deputy Commissioner in his capacity as the Chairman, with six other official members. Six more official members were added to the Board in 1956-57, vide Punjab Government Notification No. 8348/LB(CH-56/10383, dated 1 December 1956, and No. 17140-LB-56/8336, dated 5 February 1957.
The district boards were replaced by Zila Parishads by the Punjab Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads Act, 1961. Thus the District Board Firozpur, was superseded by the Zila Parishad, Firozpur, on 1 May 1965.
The Zila Parishad consists of elected members (two members per block out of the primary members of all the Pachayats in a block, elected by the Panchayat Samiti concerned); the chairman of ever Panchayat Samiti in the District; the Deputy Commissioner, the associate members (comprising the members of the Lok Sabha and the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, representing the District or any part of it); and the co-opted members (confined to women and the members of the Schedules Castes and the Schedules Tribes). The term of office of the Zila Parishad is the same as that of a Panchayat Samiti, i.e. five years. The Zila Parishad, Firozpur has a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman, elected by the members [excluding the associated members, i.e. MPs., M.L.As and the ex-officio members, (the Deputy Commissioner), who have nor right to vote at any meeting of the Zila Parishad] from among themselves.
There was no member of the Zila Parishad, Firozpur, on 31 March 1980, and it was governed by the Administrator (the Deputy Commissioner, Firozpur).
For the improvement of the general sanitation and cleanliness of the City and to adopt preventive measures against the spread of epidemics, sanitary supervisors and Swasthwa Sahayks are on the permanent establishment of theZila Parishad , Firozpur.
With a view to promoting sports and games among the people of the rural areas the Zila parishad holds District tournaments and also participates in State tournaments.
Year Income Expenditure
1973-74 11,29,134 12,87,724
1974-75 16,06,464 12,64,054
1975-76 10,95,587 10,06,384
1976-77 8,08,569 9,57,084
1977-78 10,57,206 8,44,009
1978-79 9,97,024 13,40,200
(Source : Secretary, Zila Parishad, Firozpur)