Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act,1996 (PESA) – UPSC Prelims

What is the PESA Act?
  • The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act,1996 (PESA) is an important and key legislation to empower the tribal communities.
  • Aim: The act aims at devolving governance to Panchayats/Gram Sabhas in Schedule V areas for mainstreaming tribal development.
  • States covered: The act is currently in force in 10 states of the country with a predominantly tribal population, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.
  • Gram Sabha: Every village shall have its own Gram Sabha. A village may consist of one or more habitations or hamlets comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs.
  • It has completed 25 years this year.
What are the significant powers provided to Gram Sabha under PESA?
  • Approve plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development.
  • Identify persons as beneficiaries under the poverty alleviation and other programmes.
  • Right to mandatory consultation in land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced persons.
  • Mandatory recommendations by Gram Sabha or Panchayat at an appropriate level for prospective licenses/leases, concessions for mines and minerals.
  • To safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, and their cultural identity, community resources and customary mode of dispute resolution.
  • Regulate sale/consumption of intoxicants and ownership of minor forest produce.
  • Manage village markets and control over money lending to STs.
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